Why is it that books into films don’t work and movies into theatre just aren’t the same? Asks Ashleigh in another edition of her column for ATV Today.

Currently at The Noel Coward Theatre in the West End, six talented women old enough to be my grandma are getting their kit off in aid of leukaemia research – that’s right readers Calendar Girls has rolled into town!

The story of the Knapely Women’s Institute (WI) producing an alternative calendar, against all the odds, to raise money in memory of one of the member’s beloved husband received international stardom back in 1999, and the original “Calendar Girls” became a phenomenon.Now I LOVE the film – OMG I love the film. Julie Walters and Helen Mirren are two of my favourite actors and Lynda Bellingham does happen to be my favourite Loose Woman along with Lesley Garrett (more on her later!) but somehow I’m not feeling the Jam & Jerusalem love.

On paper it’s a winner – six mature, attractive, talented women star in a story of love, solidarity and humour. Shredding their inhibitions and bras to raise money for a sofa for Skipton General Hospital and to say that beauty, even sexuality, doesn’t end at 25 like Hollywood lead us to believe, but the magic of lala land seems to have produced a gerbil instead of a rabbit.

Maybe I was expecting too much, maybe I thought I knew the story, maybe I should forget the film.Yes its set in Yorkshire, yes the WI gather in the village hall and yes the women are naked – sorry nude!- but the story HAS changed with most events being adapted and happening off stage. The action is a little wooden, and I’m sure at times the only living thing that can hear their voices are certain breeds of dogs! Having said that the story does flow, emotions are high and humour is spread thickly like the jam in the Victoria sponge. By employing some abstract theatre conventions that seem imaginative but don’t really follow through, and with plenty of memorable quotes from the film, the performance confuses itself. It needs to decide on a hymn and stick to the melody.

Overall its an enjoyable night out for both women and men, of which there were plenty in the audience. The mere fact that we have older women in commercial theatre giving empowering, honest and endearing performances night after night is great and fills me with pride. I do recommend you go for the laughs and tears you will undoubtedly have – more of the former by the way – just don’t expect the film.

6/10.

Being the good wee drama student that I am [not] and going to see lots of theatre, I returned to Carousel this week and I’m so glad I did. Lesley Garrett, the only reason I went, gave me money’s worth and she’s quickly becoming my sixth lady! I’m so amazed that kind of sound can come out of a person. Go to see Carousel, just for the score alone which is performed by a live 17 piece orchestra. And be prepared to be amazed by the singing talent that comes from the girls because there’s not much of a story to fall in love with. Save that for Lesley, Alexandra Silber who plays Julie Jordan and Lauren Hood who plays Carrie Pipperidge.

6/10 for the overall performance because Alexandra needs to project when she talks but 8/10 for the music.

Until next time, Go with love.

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