Stage Version of "Calendar Girls" Film to Play London's Noel Coward, Home of the Departing Avenue Q

News   Stage Version of "Calendar Girls" Film to Play London's Noel Coward, Home of the Departing Avenue Q A stage version of the 2003 film "Calendar Girls," adapted by Tim Firth from his own screenplay, will begin previews at the West End's Noel Coward Theatre April 4, 2009. The production will replace Avenue Q, which closes March 28, 2009.

Calendar Girls — which is initially booking for a 12-week period through June 27, 2009 — premiered onstage at Chichester Festival Theatre in September 2008 and has since been on an extensive and continuing national tour, with dates now booked until its arrival in the West End.

Hamish McColl, who won an Olivier Award for co-writing and performing The Play What I Wrote in the West End and subsequently reprising it at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre in 2003, directs a cast that includes Lynda Bellingham, Patricia Hodge, Sian Phillips, Gaynor Faye, Brigit Forsyth, Julia Hills and Elaine C Smith. Also in the cast are Joan Blackham, Abby Francis, Gary Lilburn, Gerard McDermot and Carl Prekopp.

Hodge plays Annie, who after losing her husband to leukemia, resolves to raise money for the local hospital with her close friend and Womens' Institute member Chris (Bellingham) by publishing a nude calendar of local WI members.

Hodge's recent theatre credits include The Country Wife (directed by Jonathan Kent at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket), Boeing-Boeing (Comedy Theatre) and His Dark Materials (National Theatre). Her TV credits include playing Portia in "Rumpole of the Bailey."

Bellingham's recent theatre credits include Vincent River (Trafalgar Studios), Sugar Mummies (Royal Court) and Losing Louis (Hampstead Theatre, then the Trafalgar Studios). On TV she played Helen Herriott in "All Creatures Great and Small" and the mother in the OXO advertisements. Phillips was seen most recently on Broadway in Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Roundabout Theatre Company at the American Airlines Theatre) and Off-Broadway in Paul Rudnick's Regrets Only (Manhattan Theatre Club). Recent UK stage appearances include The Dark (Donmar Warehouse) and Great Expectations (RSC).

Faye's TV credits include "The Chase," "Playing the Field" and "Coronation Street," Forsyth's theatre credits include The Triumph of Love at Manchester's Royal Exchange, Arsenic and Old Lace on a national tour and Jerusalem at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds. On TV she is best known for her long-running role as Thelma Ferris in the BBC series "The Likely Lads" and "Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads." Hills was a member of the cast of the late-night Channel 4 comedy sketch show "Who Dares Wins" and played Rona in nine series of the sitcom "2point4 Children." She has also appeared extensively onstage, including appearances with the RSC, at the Bristol Old Vic and Richmond's Orange Tree. Smith is a household name thanks to her appearances in the TV series "Rab C. Nesbitt," and has appeared onstage in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Two and The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband.

Prior to the West End, Calendar Girls will continue its tour to the King's Theatre, Edinburgh (Oct. 13-18), the Lowry, Salford Quays (Oct. 20-25), High Wycombe's Swan (Oct. 27-Nov. 1), Canterbury's Marlowe Theater (Nov. 3-8), Cambridge's Arts Theatre (Nov. 10-15), Bath's Theatre Royal (Nov. 17-22), Richmond Theatre (Nov. 24-29), Malvern Theatre (Dec. 1-6), and Plymouth Theatre Royal (Dec. 8-13), then resume at Aberdeen's His Majesty’s Theatre (Feb. 3-7, 2009), Nottingham's Theatre Royal (Feb. 9-14), Stoke's Regent Theatre (Feb. 16-21), Woking's New Victoria (Feb. 23-28), Southampton's Mayflower (Mar. 2-7), Cardiff's New Theatre (March 9-14), make a return visit to Salford's Lowry (March 16-21) and Norwich's Theatre Royal (March 23-28).

The play has a set by Robert Jones, lighting by Malcolm Rippeth, costumes by Emma Williams and music by Steve Parry. It is produced by David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers.

To book tickets for the West End run, contact the Noel Coward box office at 0844 482 5140, or visit www.seecalendargirls.com. In a special arrangement, the usual £1.50 booking fee for tickets will be donated to Leukemia Research.