Reviewed by Jacqui Wall
I love coming to St Jude’s to review, even though it feels like the other side of the earth to me. Not only because of the calibre of shows they put on but also the friendly, happy members of Front of House that greet everyone upon arrival. Calendar Girls could have been a risky undertaking as so many people have seen the movie version with Helen Mirren and Julie Walters but under the expert direction of Brian Knott and the cast of superb performers, you just knew it was going to be a winner.
The entire cast without exception brought to their role an enthusiasm and empathy, which the original characters would be proud of. Given this play is based on real life events, and more importantly a subject that will almost certainly touch each and every one of us at some stage, it was handled with exceptional skill and dignity.
Shelley Hampton as Chris and Joanne St Claire as Annie were pivotal within the story and the power and empathy between the two was heartwarming. Notwithstanding, the rest of the cast of Leslie Reed as Jessie, Deb Walsh as Cora, Maxine Grubel as Celia, Heather Riley as Ruth, Lindy LeCornu as Marie, Patrick Gibson as Lawrence/Liam, Lindsay Dunn as Rod, Carol Hunter as Brenda/Lady Cravenshire and Louisa Norman as Elaine all were outstanding in their unique way and truly highlighted their individuality through their character. Whilst Andrew Horwood as John was only on stage for a very brief time, he was commanding and quirky as ever. I don’t believe I have seen Andrew perform badly ever. This show had me crying within the first five minutes, firstly with laughter then later with heartfelt sorrow for what John and Annie had to face.
The set was sparse but incredibly functional and the lighting and sound worked well within the concept of the show. A few opening night nerves, but these will settle quickly and certainly did not detract from anyone’s performance. Well done to all involved and I strongly urge everyone to make the trip to St Jude’s for this truly heart-warming production.
Joanne St Clair and Maxin Grubel as Annie and Celia – Shelley Hampton and Lindy LeCornu as Chris and Marie