Calendar Girls The Musical at the Royal & Derngate Northampton Review

8-12 October 2019

Reviewed by Amanda Browne

I had waited many months to see the award-winning musical Calendar Girls and finally the day had arrived, the Royal & Derngate in Northampton was playing host to Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s adaptation of the well-known film. The Royal & Derngate is one of my favourite theatres, bars are plentiful to grab a pre-show drink and the seating is comfortable with really ample legroom. The theatre was packed, mainly with women, but some brave men had accompanied their good women.

I didn’t know before the show that Gary Barlow was involved, but having seen it he is genuinely one of our times greatest songwriters. The opening number Yorkshire, a stirring tune, set the tone for the show.  If you haven’t seen the film (why not I ask?) then the story centres around the true story of 12 members of the the Women’s Institute in Yorkshire who made a nude calendar to raise funds for a sofa in their local hospital in memory of one of the ladies husbands who died of cancer.

Cancer touches so many of us these days, please don’t not go because you think the subject matter is to dark or depressing. These magnificent ladies showed such courage and ingenuity in the face of adversity, I sat watching in awe of their braveness and wondering if we all did something so brave how different the world could be.

I don’t normally have such admiration for a cast but boy oh boy ladies, I take my hat off to one and all. Annie (Sarah Jane Buckley), Sue Devaney (Cora), Julia Hills (Ruth), Lisa Maxwell (Celia) and Ruth Madoc (Jessie). Just awesome ladies, at any age to take your clothes of in the privacy of your bedroom is a mission, as one of the lovely gentleman commented in the show, but to do it in front of a packed audience you have my utter admiration. The show bought all sorts of emotions for me to the fore, it really is a message of hope, hope that from such awful awful circumstances truly great things can happen. Who has friends in their world that would go to such lengths to raise funds for a sofa, for relatives to sit on in a hospital waiting room. All I could think of was how many sofas I’d sat on this year in waiting rooms and how you just never know the journey of so many people coping with terminal illness.

Rebecca Storm, Sue Devaney, Lisa Maxwell, Julia Hills, Ruth Madoc, Sarah Jane Buckley and Judy Holt
Photo credit: John Swannell

This show was uplifting, the courage these ladies showed was truly something to behold, the music was uplifting and at times the singing was outstanding. The nudity both tasteful and amusing. All in all, I absolutely loved it, sunflowers abounded and for me it’s a show I could watch again and again. The whole cast deserved the standing ovation, but the ladies well they deserved a little bit more, amazing. Go see this show if you can, it’s a date you don’t want to miss.

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £11 (booking fees may apply).

Calendar Girls The Musical is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton from 8-12 October 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit or call the box office on 01604 624811.

Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811

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