Make a date with the Calendar Girls – Review

Make a date with the Calendar Girls – Review

UNLESS you’ve been living in a bunker for the last 20 years, you’ll be familiar with the famous story this new musical is based upon.

Calendar Girls The Musical, Gary Barlow, Birmingham Hippodrome

But, for the benefit of those emerging from bunkers – this is the touching true tale of a group of ladies from a Yorkshire village who appeared naked for a WI calendar to raise funds for a settee for their local hospital following the death of one of their husbands.

It’s latest incarnation (it’s been a hugely successful play and film) had much to live up to. There was a lot riding on Gary Barlow’s musical score which, in his collaboration with the play’s original writer Tim Firth, had the potential to take the show to a new level.

And, I’m delighted to say, that it did.

It’s a delicate balance of emotions – there is the potential for tears of both laughter and sadness pretty much throughout the show (either way, that’s lots of tears!) –  and the subjects of love, loss, loneliness and friendship are captured most beautifully through Barlow’s numbers. It would have been easy to underline the script with a string of sad ballads – and there are its fair share of those – . but in fact, one walks away at the end of the evening feeling uplifted and ready to take on the world – whatever it might throw at us.

Calendar Girls The Musical, Birmingham Hippodrome, Gary Barlow, Tim Firth
The Calendar Girls cast with Gary Barlow and Tim Firth

For this is a show about an ordinary group of people with ordinary lives achieving quite extraordinary things. – Did you know the ladies upon which this story is inspired raised almost £5 million for blood cancer charity Bloodwise through their combined efforts? Quite right too then that their legacy should continue to live on through the arts.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a show about grief, it’s a show about relationships and is more heartwarming than heartbreaking. The emotion is, at times, raw and you’ll have your share of wobbly lip moments (unless you’re made of stone) but, on the whole, it’s a celebration of endearment and emotional endurance (theirs and ours!) And as a show I believe it will also endure.

On its first UK tour following a stint in London’s West End, Calendar The Musical is in the hands of a most capable cast, many of whom are familiar faces from our TV screens.

Lesley Joseph of Birds of a Feather fame, Hollyoaks star Sarah Jane Buckley; Casualty actress Sue Devaney; Broadchurch star Julia Hills; Judy Holt of Cold Feet; Rebecca Storm from Les Miserables and ‘Loose Woman’ Lisa Maxwell make for a formidable acting line-up that handles everything thrown at them. And the heavy smattering of hysterical one-liners were fairly evenly distributed! The laugh-out-loud moments were among some of the funniest I’ve encountered in the theatre.

In a departure from the original script, Firth further explores the roles of the teenage characters and it’s a stroke of genius, adding more comedy gold to proceedings.

Calendar Girls The Musical, Birmingham Hippodrome

Act One at first seems to move quite slowly but, in fact, builds nicely towards a much-anticipated second act when the calendar photoshoot scenes for which the show is most famous, bring down the house.

There’s wonderful chemistry between these ladies who are clearly having an absolute ball getting their kit off night after night! And so were we.

Calendar Girls the Musical is raw, charming and uplifting and should not be missed. There’s plenty of time to still catch it locally as it runs at The Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, June 8th.

First phase of new £37m waterpark set to open

First phase of new £37m waterpark set to open

THE new Lifestyles Health & Fitness facilities at The Wave in Coventry will open on 24th June, it has today been announced.

The Wave will offer fitness facilities and equipment of the highest quality. It will have a friendly, approachable atmosphere, but also the latest and most effective training equipment available.


With TechnoGym technology on hand, you can keep track of your progress using the MyWellness app. There will be a broad range of free weights, including dumbbells of up to 50kg, as well as plate-loaded resistance machines. And more than 70 fitness classes will include sessions from the world-renowned Les Mills.

Inside, there is a 25-metre pool dedicated for lane swimming, 120-station gym, group exercise studio, indoor group cycling studio and squash courts. There will be cardiovascular gear and athletics-focused machines; resistance training facilities and exercise classes for all levels.

On top of the state-of-the-art facilities, Lifestyles members will also get exclusive benefits of: free ‘Lite’ breakfast, free parking, Express check-in and access to all the Lifestyles Centres.

Also within The Wave’s building is the Mana Spa and ‘Maori’-inspired culture. A secret paradise, complete with Spa Pool, Aromatic Room, Herbal Steam Room and Sauna as well as three treatment rooms and a luxurious Foot Spa. Find out more at

Lifestyles members will have the opportunity to bolt on an exclusive Mana Spa package, which includes unlimited use of the spa facilities and one complimentary 30- minute treatment per month.

Visit to become a member. The Wave

More information on the open date of the waterpark at The Wave will be made next month. The Wave has been advertising for slide testers since January 2019 and members of the public can sign up to be the amongst the first to ride the slides but there is only one week left to sign up! Applications for testers close on Friday, 31st May 2019. Sign up now at 

The use of the squash courts will not be included with the Lifestyles membership, but will be bookable on a pay-as-you-go rate.

Stepping out for Molly Olly’s Wishes

Stepping out for Molly Olly’s Wishes

MORE than £2,000 was raised through dance for Warwick charity Molly Olly’s Wishes thanks to two events at the weekend.

Viva Theatre Arts, Kenilworth

Some 120 people took part in two hours of dance at the Coventry Zumbathon in Square One on Saturday while, the following day, 70 members of Viva Theatre Arts in Kenilworth came together at Warwick School for a showcase of dance, performing from a variety of genres including tap, ballet, jazz, modern and lyrical.

Viva Principal Claudia Temple said: “The students had a wonderful afternoon presenting their dance showcase Once Upon A Time at Warwick Hall to an audience of 300. The show included appearances from dancing peapods, squirrels, jockeys and chess pieces!

“We are currently working out what was raised by the raffle, the programmes, the tombola and the name the Teddy competition and we hope to make some more special children’s Wishes come true with our donation”.

Viva Theatre Arts, Kenilworth, Molly Olly's Wishes

Molly Olly’s Wishes was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer. It works to support children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses and their families and help with their emotional wellbeing, grants wishes and donates therapeutic toys and books to both children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK.

Charity trustee Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “It never ceases to amaze us how brilliant the Viva show is. Claudia and her team work so hard to put everything together to make it happen but of course the children are the stars of the show.

“Each and every one of them put their all into it and the result is both beautiful and emotional to watch. It is a real honour to be able to watch , there is a huge amount of talent and the support that everyone at Viva has given to Molly Olly’s is incredibly kind and very much appreciated.”

Coventry Zumbathon, Molly Olly's Wishes

Of the Zumbathon, she added: “This was such a fun way to raise money. The Molly Olly Team had a great time with Matt at The Zumbathon on Saturday in Coventry. Matt was a brilliant instructor and everyone who attended had a brilliant time keeping fit and raising funds. Even Olly tried out a few moves!

“A big thank you to him for organising and everyone who came along and supported. We loved it.”


For further details about the charity and to learn more about how to help or donate, visit:

Read more about the work of Molly Olly’s Wishes and its trustee Rachel Ollerenshaw here

Help Jump In Park’s springboard to success

Help Jump In Park’s springboard to success

JUMP IN Trampoline Park in Warwick has been named a finalist in the seventh annual Muddy Stilettos local business awards.

Jump In Trampoline Park, Warwick

The arena, which has just marked its third anniversary in the town, is among five businesses to top the public vote in Warwickshire’s Best Family Attraction category.

It goes up against: Mary Arden’s Farm in Wilmcote, The British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Magic Alley in Stratford-upon-Avon and Coventry Transport Museum.

Thousands of people cast their vote across 24 categories, including Best Café, Children’s Business, Florist and Art Gallery and voting is now reset for the finalists for the next seven days.

The business with the most votes in each category after 12pm on Wednesday May 22nd will be crowned the winner.

To vote just visit: here

Rob Borg, Regional Director of Jump In Warwick, said: “We are extremely proud to be nominated for this award of Best Family Attraction. Our trampoline park has served local families in Warwickshire for the last three years with excellent customer experiences and our whole team would be very proud to win this category. We would be very grateful if you can please take the time to visit the Muddy Stilettos website and vote for us.”

The winners will be announced on the site on Thursday, May 23rd once the voting has been verified and will be invited to a Winners’ Drinks party on Tuesday, June 4th 5-7pm at The Elizabethan Barn, Stratford Park Hotel, Ingon Lane, Stratford-upon-Avon.

As well as Open Jump sessions, Jump In trampoline park, in Hermes Close, Tachbrook Park, Leamington, offers After School Club; Toddler Time; Friday Night Takeover for teenagers; Relaxed Sessions (with SEN activities and Rebound Therapy); Fitness Classes and three birthday party packages including Glow Room and the country’s first Dome Party.

Visit Jump In at: for more information.

Muddy Stilettos is the UK’s leading lifestyle website targeting women outside London, with 225,000 subscribers and a social following of more than 140,000 across 21 counties. Launched in 2012 by Independent on Sunday and Red journalist Hero Brown who wanted to find the most interesting things happening near where she lived in Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire, the site has since expanded into a further 19 counties – Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Norfolk, Rutland, Somerset, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire & Wiltshire. A further 10 counties are due to launch in 2020.