There’s an air of excitement around Leeds Grand Theatre and the reason involves the Women’s Institute, well-placed sunflowers and well-meaning nudity. Its impressive 19th century surroundings will be hosting the world premiere of Tim Firth and Gary Barlow’s musical The Girls on the 14th of November, followed by a four week run before heading over to The Lowry in Salford. Based on the famous film and play Calendar Girls that drew inspiration from a true story, this is set to offer a heart-warming and laugh-out-loud evening out… and we can’t wait to attend!
For those who don’t know the story behind Calendar Girls and now The Girls, it began in 1998 in Cracoe village in the Yorkshire Dales, when a group of 11 women aged between 45 and 65 undressed for a calendar to raise money for leukaemia and lymphoma research. Tricia Stewart suggested the idea to Rylstone Women’s Institute following her friend’s husband’s treatment of and subsequent death from non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the same year, and the calendar was made with the help of local artist Terry Logan.
The aim was to raise £5,000, dedicate the calendar to the friend’s husband John Baker and interest was expected to pass after three weeks. However, it gained media hype and became a huge success; selling 88,000 copies in the UK that year and 240,000 copies in America the year after… and was even presented to the Queen at Buckingham Palace! To date, the calendar’s success has raised nearly £4 million and has inspired a book, play, film and now a musical too.
Olivier Award winner Tim Firth is behind both the screen and stage play, and has worked alongside long-standing friend Gary Barlow to compose an array of songs including ‘Yes, I’ve Had a little Work Done’, ‘Sunflower, What Age Expects’ and ‘Yorkshire’ for the musical. Having won six Ivor Novello Awards and written 14 number one singles, we can’t wait to hear what we’re sure will be Gary’s latest toe-tapping hits, all of which will be performed by a multi award-winning cast.
Actresses playing starring roles will include soprano singer Claire Moore, who is known for having played the leading role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, winner of two Olivier Awards Joanna Riding and Harriet Thorpe, who alongside being nominated for the 2012 Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, is also an ambassador for ‘Walk the Walk’ breast cancer charity. While actors will include one half of sixties folk duo Chad & Jeremy and grandson of the 7th Duke of Wellington, Jeremy Clyde, alongside newcomers including Josh Benson and Ben Hunter.
We've been eagerly following the flurry of press around the musical and counting down the days until launch night. Covering village life, the events that led to the calendar and the effects it had on not only those involved but also their surroundings families, we think The Girls will provide an emotional, entertaining and ultimately inspiring evening out during a visit to Leeds. With tickets available for between £10 and £45, and the venue only a ten minute stroll from our hotel, we can’t wait to experience this new adaptation of such a wonderful story. We recommend booking as soon as possible if you’re planning on attending as tickets are selling out fast… and if you’d like to combine your visit with a four-stay at our boutique hotel, we have an array of offers and packages ideal for winter breaks here.