For the last few months, it has been hard to miss the Phoenix Theatre as you take a stroll down Charing Cross Road. A literal ray of sunshine even on the darkest day, covered in beautiful sunflowers and flickering lights, grabbing your attention as you pass. The theatre has been playing host to The Girls, a musical based on the true story of the calendar girls, a group of women of the WI who stripped off for a charity calendar after one of their husbands sadly passes away from cancer. From the musical theatre team of Gary Barlow and David Pugh, The Girls seemed to fit perfectly into the West End since it opened in January, but this weekend sees the show close sooner than expected.
With a wonderful cast full of women at their best, showing the audience night after night just how fearless they are by stripping down to their birthday suits in this brilliantly poignant musical comedy, the audience response to this new piece of theatre has been amazing. The show even received a number of Olivier Nominations. So why it is closing? Unfortunately, I do not have an answer to this big question but I have to say that I think it is an awful shame. With a true and tragic story at it’s heart, The Girls was full of comedy and catchy songs, bringing both tears of sadness and laughter to it’s audience on a daily basis.
I was lucky enough to see the show twice, both times with different cast members on. Its always great to see different people playing different roles. I loved it. For me it was the comedy of the piece that stood out. I can not count how many laugh out loud moments there was, from the brilliant dynamic relationship between single mother Cora (Claire Machin) and her teenage son Tommo (Josh Benson) from the moment in which Danny encounters his mother stripping off whilst ditching school and walking over the fell. A particular highlight for me was the song ‘Silent Night’ which sees a classic Christmas scene of singing on the village green into a amazingly over the top swing number. If you had the chance to see this wonderful show, you are one of the lucky ones. It stands there to remind you of the power of friendship, and daring to do everything you thought you were not capable off.
Despite the fact that the show is closing, the cast and crew of The Girls should be proud of themselves. Not only have they brought a brilliant show into the West End, one that was well received and much loved by many. I have seen on social media that it was a show that many made numerous return visits too. But not only that. This show with its cast and its crew has raised a huge amount of money for Bloodwise, a charity raising money to help those suffering from cancer and their families. After every performance, cast members would come to the theatre foyer shaking buckets to collect money and the audience always seemed happy to give. Another example of the power of theatre.
But not to worry. This isn’t the end for The Girls. A major UK Tour has been announced, visiting cities all over the country, starting next year. Not only this, but various other productions of the show in different places are rumoured to be in the works. So even though it is closing in the heart of London’s West End, and the hundreds of sunflowers are soon to be removed from the Phoenix Theatre, don’t fret, it won’t be long until we see those beautiful sunflowers blooming all other the country as The Girls heads out on tour!