Calendar Girls Musical close to Sarah Jane's heart after her own health battle

An operatic society which is the first on the Fylde coast to stage Calendar Girls the Musical is also raising money for a cancer charity – and it’s particularly apt for one cast member.

By Richard Hunt
Monday, 20th June 2022, 2:31 pm

The show is based on real life Rylstone Women's Institute members in Yorkshire, who became a global phenomenon when they made a nude calendar and raised more than a million pounds for a leukaemia project after the heartbreaking death of one of their husbands.

It is being performed by St Annes Parish Operatic Society (SAPOS) at Lytham’s Lowther Pavilion next month.

Sarah Jane Stone plays the role of Chris Harper, who was portrayed in the hit film Calendar Girls by Helen Mirren and who first voiced the idea of the nude calendar as a way of raising funds.

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Sarah Jane Stone (left) who plays Chris and Pauline Hardy, who plays Annie, in the forthcoming production of Calendar Girls at the Lowther Pavilion in July

The theme is particularly close to Sarah as she had breast cancer three years ago, followed by surgery, radiotherapy and reconstruction.

She said: “It is a little daunting to play one of the most inspirational women of recent times.

“The real-life ‘Chris’ came up with the idea of the nude calendar so it is an honour to re-live the true story through her.”

Geraldine Brown as Cora, Paula Curtis as Celia, Sarah Jane Stone as Chris, Pauline Hardie as Annie, Mandy Hall-Laird as Ruth, Joan Aitchison as Jessie in the forthcoming SAPOS production of Calendar Girls.

Sarah Jane, 56, from Poulton, is bravely baring the necessary for the sake of this emotional and uplifting production and said: "I had breast cancer three years ago.

"There’s a courage you’ll only ever find is there, if you dare!

“I’d love everyone to buy a ticket and support live theatre after such a difficult few years for the industry.”

The SAPOS ladies will be bravely shedding their clothes at one point in the show, although it will be tastefully done!

They are even making a special calendar of their own – also tastefully done – with funds being raised for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Rosie Withers, director: "The nudity is done with subtlety and discretion, and, although it tends to be what everyone hears about, it is definitely not the most important part of this production. In essence, it’s a show about love!”

Calendar Girls the Musical is being performed at the Lowther Pavilion from Wednesday July 20 to Saturday July 23 at 7.30pm each night, in addition to a Saturday matinee performance at 2pm.

Tickets for the show are available from the Lowther Pavilion website and box office on (01253) 794221.