Children from a Washington primary school had a surprise date with the cast of Calendar Girls after learning a song from the hit musical.
Catherine White, an early years leader at Marlborough Primary School, is a big fan of the musical which is based on the true life story of the WI women who raised millions for charity with their nude calendar, so much so it inspired her to raise her own funds for charity Bloodwise UK.
Catherine, whose mother-in-law died from leukaemia, has been teaching pupils one of the tracks, Dare, which features on a new musical version of the show penned by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth.
She says it’s been a great way of teaching children about taking risks and daring to dream, but little did the children realise that the cast of Calendar Girls would come along to an assembly to see them perform the song.
Fern Britton, Denise Welch, Ruth Madoc and Rebecca Storm took a break from performing the musical at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal to visit the school.
Speaking to the Echo, Fern said: “Gary calls Dare the show’s anthem and the response to it from the audience blows us away every night.”
The new musical version of the show saw Take That star Gary team up with childhood friend Tim Firth to breathe new life into the tale and, after a season in London, it’s now touring the country and will be returning to the North East in March for a run at Sunderland Empire.
Denise Welch said: “I’ve done a lot of shows over the past 40 years and I’ve never been in a show that’s had such an impact on audience, they’re so vocal. Tim and Gary feel this is the definitive version of Calendar Girls and the real Calendar Girls are still involved themselves and protective of it, which they should be. What they did 20 years ago was amazing and we’re still talking about it now.”
Ruth Madoc said: “I was in the play of Calendar Girls for three years, but the musical has really brought it on another level and involves the community where the women lived. In the play they did the calendar shoot at the end of act 1 and then in act 2 we talked about why we did it, but Tim and Gary have moved that to the end of act 2 and, with the addition of the music, the piece feels properly weighted and enhanced now.”
Catherine said: “The new musical version of the show is fabulous and the song Dare, in particular, has such a positive message about taking risks and pushing forward, and that’s a really important message for children, to raise their aspirations.”
So far the real life Calendar Girls have raised £5million for charity and Bloodwise, the UK’s specialist blood cancer charity, continues to receive monies from the musical production.
•Calendar Girls The Musical plays at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal until September 29. Tickets priced £19.50 can be purchased at www.theatreroyal.co.uk or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 112121.
•See our chat with Gary Barlow about Calendar Girls here.