DIRECTOR, Alexandra Boughton


ANNIE, Helen Andrews
CELIA,  Dawn Stephens
CHRIS,  Jo Weller
CORA,  Nikki Plowman
JESSIE  Jude Perrett
RUTH,  Racheal Rhodes
JOHN,  Tony Creasey
ROD,  Alan Thornhill
COLIN,  Andrew Boughton
DENIS,  Mike Byrne
LAWRENCE,  Lewis Hoskins
DANNY,  Peter Salt
TOMMO,  Daniel Bayley
JENNY,  Beatriz Jennings
MARIE,  Sally Waghorn
MISS WILSON (TEA),  Kim Seymour
MISS WILSON (COFFEE)), Jenny Manville
BRENDA HULSE/ENSEMBLE 1 (F),  Ingrid Collins
ENSEMBLE 3 (F), Robyn Davies
ENSEMBLE 4 (F),  Charlotte Parrott
ENSEMBLE 6 (M),  Paul Allum


“Such an admirable thing and such a lesson in life.”

With people bursting into song at every opportunity musical theatre can often seem artificial, but, at its best, it can achieve a truth and reality that can elude more conventional drama. “Calendar Girls” is a case in point,  a show about real people in a real situation, how some members of the WI produce a fundraising nude calendar in memory of a much-loved man, an inspirational story of comfort and hope in the darkest of times. Parts of it are a painful watch. Sorrow and heartbreak has to be worked through before the story builds to a joyous and life-affirming climax. With laughter and tears in equal measure, “Calendar Girls” is a challenging show, both logistically and emotionally.

Haslemere Players has just passed the test with flying colours. The show depicts a close community and perhaps it takes a community such as the Players to do it justice. There is a huge reservoir of talent and a striving for excellence in this group. The result of this talent and commitment, brought together and beautifully presented by Alex Boughton and Lizzie Hales, was a triumph for all concerned and a joy to witness

“Calendar Girls” is a love story, of  Annie and John, one in which one of the lovers disappears halfway through. Tony Creasey was deeply moving as John, whose death from cancer is the trigger for all that comes after. His final words before he left us – “such an admirable thing and such a lesson in life” – were almost unbearably poignant. A dignified, stoical  performance. We could see why Annie loves him.

Helen Andrews, a welcome newcomer to the Haslemere stage, delivered a pitch perfect performance as Annie. For those who have cared for the terminally ill, her singing of the Very, Slightly, Almost sequence, hope turning to grim despair, was painfully true and emotionally accurate, bringing many in the audience to tears.

Then there is the love between Annie and Chris, lifelong friends. Chris is the beating heart of the show, funny, caring, human, the driver of much of the action. Joanna Weller is always excellent onstage but she achieved something special here. She brought Chris (“the crazy paving”} to life, annoying but lovable, a nuanced performance from the heart, an ordinary woman doing an extraordinary thing.

Love permeates the whole show. Not every group will bring this off with as much assurance and panache as the Players have. It is about a village and it takes a village to make it work, demanding a large group of capable actors on the top of their game. The ladies of the WI – Dawn Stephens (who had “a little work done”), Nikki Plowman, Jude Perrett (“no front bottoms, please”) and Rachael Rhodes – were all superb, watchable in their different ways, all united in love of their friends and all finding the courage to bare themselves in a good cause.

There were no weak links. The Players were able to draw on the talents of Sally Waghorn, Lewis Hoskins, Alan Thornhill, Mike Byrne, Andy Boughton, Kim Seymour and Jenny Manville, each seen many times before on the Haslemere stage (though not previously to the same extent with some as here!), who together gave us an affectionate portrayal of  the richness and eccentricity of character that is the hallmark of small, tightly-knit communities. And a special shout-out for the young performers – Peter Salt, Daniel Bayley, Beatriz Jennings – who brought engaging energy and infectious enjoyment  to their roles.  

With “Calendar Girls”, Haslemere Players once again produced work of a high order, entertaining and moving its audience. We are very fortunate to have a group with as much talent and heart as  the Players: long may it continue.

David Greenwood