Reviewing non-professional shows is always tricky. Amateur dramatics can have a bad name, and yet there are so many theatre companies out there really raising their game. So where to draw the line?
With the better ones, the ones who pull out all the stops and ensure you enjoy a cracking night out, such as OXOPS‘ production of Calendar Girls at Oxford Playhouse all week. READ ABOUT IT HERE: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/we-need-some-fun-in-our-lives-oxops-calendar-girls-hits-oxford-playhouse-with-gary-barlow-songs-and-birthday-suits/
And yes you can tell it’s not here straight from the West End – the live music is a bit loud and the first half a tad long, but what it lacks in finesse Calendar Girls makes up for in sheer gusto.
Those who witnessed the original Calendar Girls film will know the story well. The true tale of a group of a Yorkshire village’s WI members raising money for a cancer ward through their own nude calendar.
Gary Barlow wrote the songs and Tim Firth converted it into a musical depicting the sad death of Annie’s husband John to leukaemia resulting in this immense fund-raising campaign.
From the costumes to the set, no stone was left unturned in OXOPS’ bid to pull out all the stops, as the jaunty cast sang, danced and raised the rooftop. And while there was a huge cast they all managed to take their turn on stage.
Sad, poignant and a brilliant depiction by Annie (Clare Dovey-Wilson) of those touched by loss through cancer, there were sniffles emanating from all over the Playhouse auditorium, her grief so brilliantly portrayed.
Bolstered up by her best mate Chris (played by the ebullient Chilina Thurlby-Brooks) and fellow Wi members Cora (Cat Blagrove), the taut Jessie (Marilyn Moore), Celia (Kerry Crewe) and the long suffering Ruth (Rachel Haydon) the tightly knit crew of six finally commit to getting naked for charity.
Tasteful, sweet and sparing any blushes, complete with currant buns, organ playing and jam making, these six brave souls bared all.
And so we wept, laughed and cheered their journey, the sheer joy and happiness emanating from the stage wonderful to behold, the performers really raising their game.
Yes it’s a chocolate-box, rose-tinted version of England but perhaps that’s what we all need at the moment after so much doom and gloom.
A fun and rousing evening from OXOPS then, and one that was heartily applauded.
Just don’t forget to bring some change for the collection boxes at the end, which will go to Prostate Cancer UK, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research, Blue Skye Thinking, Lymphoma Research Trust, ALK-Positive Lung Cancer Research, Macmillan Cancer Support.
Calendar Girls The Musical is at Oxford Playhouse until Saturday. Book at https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/calendar-girls