Calendar Girls is getting a musical makeover courtesy of Gary Barlow. The Take That frontman is on songwriting duties for a brand new production, the Welcome to Yorkshire tourism agency has confirmed.
Already a successful film and stage show, Barlow will develop a soundtrack to breathe new life into the true story, centered on a North Yorkshire Women’s Institute.
It follows eleven members of the Rylstone branch as they go about creating an artfully nude charity calendar (think cleverly placed buns and flowers) to raise money. The funds were originally intended to buy a new sofa for the visitors’ area at a local hospital where member Angela Barker’s husband John was treated for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. But the huge success of the calendar has prompted another six editions and a range of merchandise which to date has seen the group raise more than £3 million for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
The 2003 film saw Helen Mirren, Julie Walters and Celia Imrie among the bumper cast. It earned Mirren a Golden Globe nomination and the film scooped best comedy film at the British Comedy Awards in the same year.
Adapted into a stage play in 2008, it went on to have a lengthy national tour. It’s seen various changes in the main cast, attracting stars including Anita Dobson, Jill Halfpenny, Kelly Brook and the late Lynda Bellingham.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “To have someone of Gary Barlow’s calibre working on a Yorkshire musical is amazing and I am sure, like the Calendar Girls film and the stage play, this musical will be a huge success.”
The musical was officially launched by Barlow and Firth near the Calendar Girls’ home in Burnsall, North Yorkshire on Sunday before officially opening at the Leeds Grand in November.