The Award-winning THE GIRLS has just finished its West End run at the Phoenix Theatre. Based on the 2007 hit film CALENDAR GIRLS, this musical stage adaption was written by Take That’s Gary Barlow and Tim Firth who also scripted the film’s original screenplay based on a true story of a group of spirited, middle aged Yorkshire housewives who strip for a calendar to raise money for a cancer charity. I left this montage sketch of the cast-Joanna Riding, Claire Moore, Claire Machin, Sophie-Louise Dann, Michele Dotrice and Debbie Chazen- at the stage door and it came back signed in the final week. A UK tour is planned for next year.
Top British actress Jill Halfpenny is equally known for her small screen appearances and stage work. She has appeared in both Coronation Street (1999-2000) and its rival Eastenders (2002-2005) and was the winner of Strictly Come Dancing‘s second season in 2004.
Her successful theatre career includes West End productions such as Chicago, Abigail’s Party and Legally Blonde, for which she won both the Theatre Goers Choice and Olivier Awards for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a musical (2011).
She also starred in the West End transfer of Tim Firth’s Calendar Girlsat the Noël Coward Theatre in the summer of 2009. It’s the theatre version of the film and, based on the real life tale of the Women’s Institute members from North Yorkshire who stripped off for a charity calendar in memory of member Angela Baker’s husband John who died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1998. It raised more than £1million for Leukaemia Research.
Jill dressed down for the role and as one newspaper put it, “to get her thruppeny bits out”. Like the film, modesty is protected on stage by a series of well positioned props.
I drew this quick black biro sketch which she signed at the stage door during her three month stint.
British actress, TV personality and model Gemma Atkinson first came to prominence playing Lisa Hunter in the teenage soap Hollyoaks. In theatre she appeared in Peter Pan at the Manchester Opera House in 2012, playing the lead role. “It’s nice to be boyish and not have to worry about my appearance and I get to fly!”
She played the more revealing role of Elaine in the West End production of Tim Firth’s Calendar Girls, at the Noël Coward Theatre in the Summer of 2009, where she signed this quick black biro sketch for me. Gemma also toured with the production, this time playing Celia, Miss September. She is currently back in BBC’s Casualty, playing Tamzin Boyle,
Tim Firth adapted his screenplay for the highly successful comedy Calendar Girls for a stage version in 2008. Based on a true story about a group of Yorkshire women who produce a nude calendar to raise funds for Leukaemia Research, the film starred Helen Mirren and Julie Walters.
After playing to sell out audiences at the Chichester Festival Theatre, and a lengthy national tour, it previewed at the Noel Coward Theatre in the West End in April 2009. After a run of nearly a year and numerous cast changes it embarked on a second national tour. I drew the cast near the end of its run, which included Lesley Joseph, Kacey Ainsworth, Camilla Dallerup, Helen Fraser, Sue Holderess, Deena Payne, Kathryn Rooney and Ruth Madoc, who all signed my sketch at the Buxton Opera House, strangely enough in Buxton, in November 2012.
Model, actress and TV presenter Kelly Brook signed this quick sketch for me at the Noël Coward Theatre stage door during her season in Calendar Girls in November 2009. It would be fair to say that the costume crew weren’t overly worked during their production…