We’re going to need considerably bigger buns.

An iconic line from an iconic film now transformed into a popular musical. But to make that musical a success you need an excellent company and fortunately, everything I have ever seen from Third From the Right Productions has been out of this world.

Calendar Girls — The Cornbow Hall, Halesowen — 19 November 2022

Calendar Girls is a 2015 musical based on the 2003 film of the same name. With music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and a book from Tim Firth, it tells the true story of a group of women who produce a nude calendar to raise funds for a local hospital when one of their husbands dies of cancer. This is an extremely emotional story which includes humour side by side with tragedy and eventually an ending of euphoria.

In the role of the feisty Chris was Natalie Baggot who as always portrayed a commanding figure on stage, excelling at the climax of Act One in Sunflower. As Annie, who loses husband, John (Jez Luckins) was Sarah Coussens who I saw earlier this year in Shrek. Again, it was a top notch performance and Coussens continues to be one of my favourite actors in local Musical Theatre. Kilimanjaro was sublime and Scarborough equally as poignant.

Gaynor Whitehouse returned to the stage as Cora after being at the directing helm during TFTR’s pre-Covid show, Soho Cinders while Jo Tranter aged up to play pensioner, Jessie, giving a great showing during What Age Expects. Completing the Calendar Girls were Bekki Jackson as the brassy Celia and Gillian Homer playing low self-esteemed Ruth who struggles to break free from her deadbeat husband. Both were excellent in solos, So I’ve Had a Little Work Done and My Russian Friends and I, respectively.

Supporting tremendously, though were Kaz Luckins (Marie), Charlie Bullock (Danny) and Niamh Hadley who along with Natalie Baggott provided one of the numbers of the night in Protect Me Less. Then we had Jeni Hatton (Lady Cavendish/Brenda Hulse), Carl Cook (Rod), Sam Gordon (Lawrence), Ian Howarth (Colin), Adrian Raybould (Denis) and Joe Neale (Tommo). Finally, the two unmarried Miss Wilsons (Laura Wright and Shan Nolan Beach) who bared near all in a cheeky cameo.

Jez Luckins was Artistic Director with assistance and choreography from Gaynor Whitehouse in addition to both treading the boards on stage. And then there was Chris Corcoran who continued his wonderful association with TFTR as Musical Director while the Production Manager was Dave Gardner.

Calendar Girls — The Cornbow Hall, Halesowen — 19 November 2022

The climax of the show sees the girls discreetly hidden by various food produce and utensils in For One Night Only before an uplifting finale in Sunflower of Yorkshire. At the end, the entire audience were on their feet with an ovation richly deserved.

The fourth production by Third From The Right I have seen and each time the bar raises higher. November 2023 will see the company return with (the delayed by Covid) Tommy. By then I expect the bar to hit the roof.

Calendar Girls — The Cornbow Hall, Halesowen — 19 November 2022


Antony N Britt

  • Some photos taken from TFTR’s Facebook page.