We at Playhouse Pickings have seen Calendar Girls a few times and, once again, it has not failed to make us laugh, make us cry, and be quite simply one of the best shows we have seen.
A story of loss, love and hope all stemmed from a tragic story back in 1998, when Angela Baker lost her husband to non-Hodgkins’s Lymphoma, and sought comfort in making something good out of something so heart-breaking – with the aim of providing the local hospital with a new sofa through sales of their nude calendar, and to prove John wrong (he thought they’d never do it!). Ladies of the WI banded together to create a never-seen-before Calendar that gained a place in the national newspapers, international press attention, and sold out in the first week. All proceeds were used to fund lymphoma and leukaemia research (now known as Bloodwise) and have so far raised over £5 million. Until the 26 th October, Tim Firth and Gary Barlow are bringing this story to life, once again, with just as much humility, love and affection as it has always deserved.
Dazzling screens projecting the galaxy with shooting stars and the feeling that something momentous is about to happen, greet you as you enter the Ipswich Regent Theatre, promising a glittering show of the music we all love and adore by Queen.
The immensely talented Ben Elton has recreated the incredibly popular show, with a return already promised for 2020, showcasing some of Queens best hits through an insta-selfie-no-instruments futuristic world where a group of Rock Rebels called the Bohemians fight for their freedom, and the right to express themselves through the music that reflects there individualism.
Having wanted to see Blood Brothers for years, the time came when Willy Russell’s show coming to The Ipswich Regent. It tells the captivating and moving tale of twins who, separated at birth, grow up on opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again with fateful consequences. It has been lovingly christened the ‘Standing Ovation Musical’, and I can completely see why.
Lyn Paul, voted the definitive Mrs Johnstone, was phenomenal throughout. Having first played the role back in 1997, she completely encompasses all that you’d hope from the struggling mother of many, just trying to keep her family happy in a desperate situation. I believed her character and loved her effortless singing – it was captivating! Mathew Craig plays the narrator throughout the production, interacting with the other cast members, and always only a stone’s throw away – ready and waiting in the background to add to the story and keep the audience updated on less wordy scenes. He was, at first, difficult to understand, partly due to the accent, and partly due to possible mic issues, but he added an interesting dimension to the story. His accent and the sound improved greatly in the second half, and he became a favourite character for me.