Theatre News: Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s The Girls set to embark on nationwide tour

The critically acclaimed and award-winning production of The Girls will complete its six-month London season at the Phoenix Theatre on Saturday 15 July 2017 before embarking on a nationwide tour.

Producers David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers said, “We are so proud and thrilled with this production, and we want to take it to everyone who wants to see it in the country, and at prices they can afford.”

Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s new musical comedy, which played sold-out seasons in Leeds and Manchester prior to its West End run, is based on the true story, the film and the award-winning play by Tim Firth, Calendar Girls. The show will  return home to Yorkshire and open at the Leeds Grand Theatre on 15 August 2018 and visit 42 theatres across the United Kingdom.

Firth added, “We are delighted with the reception our musical has received in Leeds, Manchester and now London, and are thrilled that the show will be visiting towns and cities up and down the country, so that more people can get a chance to see it and, we hope, will also fall in love with The Girls.”

The Girls 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.

Gary Barlow and Tim Firth grew up in the same village in the north of England and have been friends for 25 years. With Take That, Gary 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.

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


Nicky’s Showbiz Diary: Keep Moving Forward

What is it with some people? You know the ones; those people (sadly usually women) who have to blow out your candle to try to make theirs burn brighter. Most of the time, toxic beings don’t get a look in with me, but every now and then, when things are already a bit tough; one manages to get under my armour.

I feel ashamed to say that at the start of the week a particularly venomous viper, spent what felt like an eternity, trying to convince me that I’m quite rubbish and for a while (about 24 hours) I believed her.

Being tough and learning the reasons behind people’s decisions to be unpleasant, are all very well, but sometimes it just plain hurts.

Anyway, I picked myself up, brushed myself off and ended up having an awesome week.

After accepting a bit of freelance work for another theatrical website (it is always so nice to be asked and really gives you a sense that you are heading in the right direction) I popped along to my first proper rehearsal of Spamalot. There’s nothing quite like belting out some cheery tunes to lift the spirits and this Monty Python inspired show is full of them.

With an added spring in my step I embarked on my working week with renewed vigor and after a fantastic trip to Bristol to see Kerry Ellis and co in Wonderland felt even better. The show, which is about a 40-year old single parent that is dealing with a catalogue of disasters (I know! Spooky right?), is a lovely positive way to spend an evening, with some great music and stunning performances. In fact, the Cheshire Cat even says, “Don’t look down. Stand up straight. Be decisive – never hesitate. If you’re lost, just keep moving forward”, which felt pertinent.

I then journeyed up to London and bumped into one of the cast members of The Girls, Sophie Louise Dann, who joined me for quick cuppa. I then interviewed Sheila Atim, who is currently leading the cast of Babbettes Feast at Print Room at the Coronet, before I popped into the Southwark News office to agree on an exciting new writing opportunity. I’m going to be working on the Greenwich Weekender and after meeting the team, I know it’s going to be a really enjoyable new venture.

I also went along to the open auditions of Cilla – The Musical and had a chat to some of the auditionees along with the writer Jeoff Pope and Cilla’s son Robert Willis.

I had a coffee with the lovely Siubhan Harrison who after starring alongside Rebel Wilson in Guys and Dolls is looking forward to getting back to the London stage and will be leading the cast at Southwark Playhouse in Steven Schwartz’s Working.

One thing I’ve learned from this week is that as long as I stay true to myself I can succeed. Yes, they’ll be plenty of rubbish people along the way who are determined to“Rain on my Parade” but nobody “Is ever gonna bring me down!” (I’m sorry for the shameless musical theatre quotes!).

Next week I’m doing a bit of a theatrical marathon and I’m starting off by going to see the Play That Goes Wrong at Exeter Northcott Theatre. I’m then really excited to be watching The Addams Family in Wimbledon, followed by Richard III at the Arcola Theatre, Ballroom at the Waterloo East Theatre and then Judy! at the Arts Theatre. I’m also popping over to Southampton to catch Samantha Barks’ solo concert before I trot along to Cadogan Hall to listen to a concert version of The Colour Purple.

Theatre cures all! Fact!

You can see all of my reviews and interviews on my website listen to me every week on BBC Radio Kent or follow me on Twitter for regular updates @NickySweetland

Star of The Girls, Sophie-Louise Dann takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

After opening to a plethora of five-star reviews earlier this year, The Girls is continuing to thrill audiences at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s glittering West End. Led by a cast of six stage stalwarts, who were collectively nominated for an Olivier Award, the production boasts a soundtrack by Take That star Gary Barlow and his childhood friend and playwright extraordinaire Tim Firth.

Gary Barlow with Sophie-Louise Dann at the Olivier Awards

The musical is based on the much-loved real life story of a group of Yorkshire housewives who made a nude calendar to raise money for charity.

One of the sextet of wondrous women is played by West End favourite Sophie-Louise Dann. The celebrated actress has been previously Olivier nominated for her portrayal of Diana Divine in Lend Me a Tenor, but now brings her wealth of talent to the role of the voluptuous Celia in The Girls.

We met Sophie for an impromptu cuppa and challenged her to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

The Girls

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful? 

Belief in yourself and knowing what you bring to the table

What is your favourite Book?

Oh gosh! There are so many but I’ll have to say Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

What are you currently watching on TV? 

I do a lot of Iplayer watching because I commute from the coast so I have just downloaded the ‘Babs’ documentary, about Barbara Windsor. I’m a big fan of Samantha Spiro, as we started our careers off together a long time ago. She’s fabulous.

Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out? 

Because I work in the theatre I’m going to go with a restaurant.

What’s your favourite sweet? 

I’m an old-fashioned girl. I like a rhubarb and custard or a lemon sherbet.

What did you want to be when you were a child? 

It was very clear what made me tick when I was six. I knew I wanted to be on the stage and I’ve fulfilled that dream I suppose.

What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child? 

I broke my mum’s fingers! I had a tantrum and broke my mum’s fingers because I wanted a pair of dungarees in a shop window. I was a hateful child. My mother always said I turned into a delightful adult.

What is your proudest achievement to date? 

Proud, that’s a weird word isn’t it? I guess for recognition in this industry, I’ve been nominated twice for an Olivier Award.

What’s next? 

I can’t really say. I want to fulfill my lovely time with The Girls and we’re going very nicely, but there are a few things buzzing around for next year.

The Girls is running at the Phoenix Theatre