Only last year were amateur societies given the right to perform this heart-warming play by Tim Firth about the gutsy ladies of the WI of Knapeley and their sensational and revealing way of raising money for the local hospital.
Thank goodness they did, for otherwise we would not have seen the magnificent production by the Lapworth Players, performed to a full and hugely appreciative house.
This reviewer had never been to Lapworth and can say, without fear or favour, that the evening was a triumph, from first to last. The close friendships, humour, pathos, inhibitions, stoicism and sheer fun of the church Hall of Knapeley were brought seamlessly and with complete conviction to the Lapworth village hall.
The calendar girls themselves are very distinct and differing characters and the producers, Reg Fox and Philip Sabin, through their skilful direction, brought out their personalities to the fullest. The cues, diction, expressions and movement were all spot on.
Annie (Claire Hill), wife of the dying John, who was played with great sensitivity by Ian Winter, had just the right mix of fortitude and good cheer and provided the ideal contrast to Chris, her bubbly and mischievous friend, acted with delightful gusto by Liz Toy.
Pam Watt, as Celia, brought great humour and heartiness to the part and delivered the wonderful diatribe against the pettiness of golf club rules with the brio it deserved. Dawn Adlam was delightful as the enigmatic Cora and May Ross played Jessie in just the understated, fastidious way which the part demands.
Ruth is perhaps the saddest of the calendar girls and Becca Tallentire conveyed this so well, especially in the scene with the ghastly beautician played with style by Sue Wall. Marie is not a calendar girl but is the po-faced head of the WI. Vera Male played her so well that Marie’s ‘conversion’ at the end was genuinely touching.
The exaggerated characters of Lady Cravenshire and Brenda Hulse were played just as they should be. Of the men, Mike Brunt was suitably boyish and jolly as Rod, and Andy Copland and Richard Middleton performed well as photographer and advertising director.
Last but not least, huge congratulations to Terry Powderhill whose lighting, sound and special effects were exceptional, from the exploding slide projector to the crashing tractor - caused, of course, by a calendar girl removing her top, high in the Yorkshire dales.
Well done the Lapworth Players - a terrific evening.