Monday, 18 March 2013


Well, what a week we had at The Brewhouse in Burton-on-Trent last week.

Virtually every seat was sold for Little Theatre Company's six performances of Tim Firth's play Calendar Girls and the feedback from our audiences was fabulous. They laughed, they cheered, they burst into spontaneous applause and they shed a few tears too - moved by the story of Annie and John Clarke (Matt Bancroft and Vicky Fryer) and Annie's fiesty friend Chris (Heather Ratcliffe).

But there was plenty of comedy too - from the hapless Ruth (Elaine Pritchard) and her doomed efforts to create still life with fir cones and fancy dress for the summer fete, and her mismatched badminton night with WI Chairman Marie (Carol Brown). And who will forget guest speaker Brenda Hulse (Sonja Wardle) and her talk on the history of broccoli, Lady Cravenshire (Sarah Spencer) and her ponderings on the architectural origins of Knapeley Church and of course retired schoolteacher Jessie (Bethan Waite) irate at being asked to arrange flowers for a landowner's wife and her encounter with the excruciatingly patronising beautician (Caitlin Pritchard)?

When it came to "SCENE SIX", the calendar photoshoot itself, the ladies all agreed it was less stressful in the end than managing fast backstage costume changes and remembering a host of props. Single mother and church organist Cora (Vanessa Birch) showed off a tattoo (but it was temporary) and photographer Lawrence (Daniel Tunks) had the audience in stitches as he finally realised Jessie was his old school teacher. Trophy wife Celia (Hannah Mason) stirred him to anger when she moved his carefully arranged composition of buns - leading to one of the most eagerly-anticipated lines each night (sometimes we could hear members of the audience join in with Chris to announce): "We are going to need CONSIDERABLY bigger buns".

The girls got lots of support and help in the photoshoot scene from other members of Knapeley WI - Joyce  Pike, Jodie Durbin, Jane German, Kay St Clair and Dawn White.

Finally to complete the cast we had Liam (Rob Tunley) tasked with shooting a washing powder commercial with the girls, and Rod (Mark Pearson), Chris's long-suffering husband.

But last week was also about us striving to reach our challenging target of raising £2,500 for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research - and, WE DID IT!! As I write, the total on our Just Giving Page stands at £2,649.89

It was thanks to a lot of people that we made this impressive total.

...Thanks to all those who donated raffle prizes - including The Mug Tug, in Barton-under-Needwood, who also surprised cast members with specially created, hand-painted jugs at the after-show party!

...Thanks to those who staffed the raffle stall in the Brewhouse bar at each performance selling raffle tickets and taking donations for our calendars and our crochet calendar girls.

...Thanks to the audience members who gave so generously.

...Thanks to Sarah Spencer - who was the Burton Calendar Girls finance chief throughout and sat up after each performance last week counting coins and texting the latest total to the girls.

..Thanks to the cast of the UK touring production of Calendar Girls who donated an autographed calendar and other memorabilia as raffle prizes.

...Thanks, of course, to the uber-talented Tilley Bancroft of Red Door Studios whose vision for the 2013 calendar we shot last summer made it such a beautiful piece of work.

...Thanks to Sara of Bra Sense and make-up artist Sheelagh  Powell who generously gave up time and products.... and all those who sold calendars for us.

There are also many, many thank you's associated with the play itself:

  • Our amazing director John Bowness 
  • Soundtrack supremo Peter Clemson
  • The hard-working set crew who built Knapeley Village Hall for us
  • Musical director Jack Hawkins
  • Karen Hailstone for continuity
  • Ben Yeomans for lighting
  • Katie Haywood - and the cast - for props
  • Geoff Thompson for photography
  • The BADAC volunteers who staffed the bar each night
  • Janet Plummer and Pam Anderson for selling programmes and staffing the coffee bar
  • Little Theatre Company's private and corporate patrons - who help make our productions possible
  • Brewhouse box office staff who stayed calm under a deluge of phone calls trying to get last minute tickets.
  • The Burton Mail for pre-show publicity.

So, the adventure is finally over. Thank you for following our blog. Our JustGiving Page will stay open until the end of March 2013 to enable any late donations to be gathered in and then we'll be organising the handover of the money to the charity which is fighting so hard to cure blood cancers.

Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research has always been associated with the play since the real life calendar girls of  Yorkshire began fundraising for a settee for their local cancer ward following the death of the real John Clarke. Who could have imagined where that decision was going to lead?

Although there's such an important and serious point to the fund raising we have had so many laughs along the way with our photoshoot and last week's shows. I hope we brought a little sunshine into your life too.

1 comment:

  1. It's certainly been an adventure I will never forget. So proud to have been part of the play and the fund-raising. What an achievement in these tough financial times for everyone.


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