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Fresh from the professional circuit, Calendar Girls: The Musical is returning to its roots, as Grassington Players have been granted the first licence to perform Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s uplifting musical at The Devonshire Institute in Grassington this Autumn, featuring cast members from Settle.

Based on the true story of the now world-famous Women’s Institute ladies from neighbouring Rylstone, the musical has evolved from the film and stage play with new characters including the teenage children of the girls.

Former Take That star, Gary Barlow, is an old schoolfriend of playwright Tim Firth, and so was a natural choice of partner for adding music to his Calendar Girls dramatisation. The musical was born and bred in The Dales as Barlow and Firth brought their new cast to Burnsall Village Hall to perform a pilot version to an invited audience in March 2015, after which the guests – including the ‘real’ Calendar Girls – were asked to provide feedback on their favourite songs to help shape the final professional show. The result is a range of contrasting songs with a good dose of Yorkshire grit and wit, so that comedy counterbalances the tears in this uplifting tale of the heartbreak of cancer tempered by the triumph of female spirit.

The real Miss January, octogenarian Beryl Bamforth, is a long-standing member of Grassington Players. She was 65 when she and her WI friends first disrobed for the original charity nude calendar. Twenty two years on, their fundraising total for Blood Cancer UK has reached in excess of £6 million.

It is fitting that Grassington Players should be awarded the rights to the first amateur performance of Calendar Girls: The Musical, particularly after their moving interpretation of the play in 2012. Vivien Goodwin, Senior Vice President of Concord Theatricals.

“We’re looking forward to attending their opening night gala performance with some of the cast reprising their roles from that production.”

Originally scheduled for production in May 2020, Calendar Girls: The Musical, rehearsals were well underway in Grassington before COVID-19 struck, though the secret of the premier remained under wraps.

The show is being generously sponsored by local broadband supplier Boundless Networks who specialise in ‘reach, speed and service in locations other networks won’t go’ – dovetailing neatly with the pioneering spirit characterising the show.

Calendar Girls: The Musical will be staged at Grassington Devonshire Institute 25th September – 2nd October. With a proportion of profits going to the cancer charity Blood Cancer UK, tickets are £15 or £20 for the opening Gala Night, available online from: www.grassingtonplayers.com/tickets  or The Grassington Hub office on 01756 752222.