CALENDAR Girls: The Musical is returning to its roots after Grassington Players became the first amateur theatre company granted the rights to perform Gary Barlow’s uplifting hit show.

Based on the true story of the neighbouring Rylstone WI members who dis-robed 22 years ago for a fundraising calendar, sparking off copycat nude calendars all over the world, the musical has evolved from the film, starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, and a stage play, with new characters including the ladies’ teenage children.

Originally to have been performed in May, last year, and with rehearsals well underway, it fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic, and is now due to be seen for the first time towards the end of September at Grassington Devonshire Institute.

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 Tim’s Calendar Girls dramatisation.

The musical was born and bred in Wharfedale as the duo brought their new cast to Burnsall Village Hall in March, 2015, to perform a pilot version to an invited audience 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 an 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 dis-robed for the original charity nude calendar at the end of the 1990s. 22 years on, their fundraising total for Blood Cancer UK has reached in excess of £6 million.

Jane Ellison-Bates, who plays Miss February in the musical version, said:“It’s a privilege to be playing the role of Annie again, nine years on from staging the play, honouring those inspirational local ladies whose original calendar was truly groundbreaking in celebrating women of all ages, shapes and sizes.”

Vivien Goodwin, senior vice president of Concord Theatricals, which owns the rights to the show, said: “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.

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

Calendar Girls: The Musical is being generously sponsored by local broadband supplier Boundless Networks which claims to: “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 (Grassington Town Hall) from September 25 to October 2.

A proportion of the profits will go to Blood Cancer UK. Tickets are £15, or £20 for the opening Gala Night, online from or The Grassington Hub office on 01756 752222.