CALENDAR Girls, the film inspired by real-life events that shed the clothes off and a new light on the WI, has been given a musical makeover by Take That singer-songwriter Gary Barlow and good friend Tim Firth.

The production - which plays Newcastle Theatre Royal in late summer – has a star-studded cast:

  • Novelist and television presenter Fern Britton, returning to the stage for the first time in 30 years, as Marie;
  • Lorraine Bruce (Kay Mellor’s The Syndicate and theatre credits include Piaf at The Donmar and Vernon God Little at the Young Vic) as Cora;
  • Anna-Jane Casey (Billy Elliot on tour, Stepping Out in London’s West End, title role in Annie Get Your Gun at Sheffield Crucible) as Annie;
  • Sara Crowe (West End roles include Bedroom Farce, The Real Inspector Hound & Black Comedy and Hay Fever) as Ruth;
  • Ruth Madoc (Hi-De-Hi, Little Britain and Gypsy) as Jessie;
  • Rebecca Storm (discovered by Willy Russell and cast as Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers, and her handprints are part of the Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre Walk of Fame) as Chris;
  • And Denise Welch (The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Coronation Street and Waterloo Road) as Celia.

The critically acclaimed and award-winning production played a six-month London season at the Phoenix Theatre last year, and, before that, this musical comedy played sold-out seasons in Leeds and Manchester.

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Tim Firth said: "To be given a chance to revisit Calendar Girls The Musical is a unique opportunity. Gary [Barlow] and I have been working away and, as the great Stephen Sondheim said, ‘Musical comedies aren't written, they are rewritten’."

Gary Barlow said: "What a phenomenal new cast we have. Tim and I sat in - and indeed played - on the auditions and have been so lucky to have put together such talented ladies.”

Barlow and Firth grew up in the same village in Cheshire and have been friends for 25 years. With Take That, Barlow has written and co-written 14 number one singles, has sold over 50 million records worldwide and is a six times Ivor Novello Award winner. Tim has won the Olivier Award and UK Theatre Award for Best New Musical, and the British Comedy Awards Best Comedy Film for Calendar Girls.

Calendar Girls The Musical is inspired by the true story of a group of ladies, who decide to appear nude for a Women’s Institute calendar in order to raise funds to buy a settee for their local hospital, in memory of one of their husbands, and have to date raised almost £5million for Bloodwise.

This musical comedy shows life in their Yorkshire village, how it happened, the effect on husbands, sons and daughters, and how a group of ordinary ladies achieved something extraordinary.

Bloodwise, the UK’s specialist blood cancer charity, will continue to receive monies from this production.

Calendar Girls The Musical is directed by Matt Ryan and designed by Robert Jones, with comedy staging by Jos Houben, movement by Lucy Hind and casting by Sarah Bird.

  • Calendar Girls The Musical, Newcastle Theatre Royal, from Tuesday, September 18, to Saturday, September 29. Tickets priced £19.50 can be purchased at www.theatreroyal.co.uk or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge).