AOC's Calendar Girls: a show to make you laugh, cry, think, and rejoice at the authentic talent
by Rory Buccheri
photo courtesy of J. Dyer
Calendar Girls landed on the stage of Aberdeen Arts Centre yesterday night.
It tiptoed quietly at first, then it roared in all its fierce magnificence. It was a fantastic show, both telling a tale of grief, community and love, and embodying what acting for passion can achieve.
The story follows the steps of Annie (Leanne Crags) after the death of her beloved husband John (Steven Close). The loss, far from affecting just her, has a direct impact on the surrounding community living in small-town Yorkshire.
From the initial despair, a group of women in their 40s part of a charitable association comes up with a peculiar plan to remember John's presence and fundraise in his name: putting together a nude calendar.
From moments of hearty laughter such as the making of the photoshoot itself, to bittersweet scenes such as 'My Russian Friend and I', the show is able to combine the brightest of comedy to the darkest of themes beautifully.
What the musical brought to the stage was a sense of comedy mixed to empathy, of moments in which tears of joy were soon followed by tears of emotion.
That is what a splendid production should be capable of: charm its audience, keep them company as they go through a story rife with tragedy, and reward them with the beauty of song and the charismatic strength of the characters.
The scene of the photoshoot itself is a remarkable one, one in which the audience is complicit and participating gleefully to the show-not-show climax of act 2.
The show was full of such moments, in which the actors and actresses involved brought energy and joy to the stage.
A special mention goes to the youngest of the cast, whose budding talent I found impressive, worthy of a 'one-to-watch' moment: Danny (Max Paterson), Jenny (Orla Woods) and Tommo (Archie MacLean).
photo courtesy of J. Dyer
The show is the latest musical produced by AOC Productions, formerly known as Aberdeen Opera Company.
The fab four team behind the scenes includes Director Judith Stephen, Musical Director Craig McDermott, Assistant Director Aaron Thom and Choreographer Hannah McKenzie.
Despite being a classic, it carries a powerful message to contemporary audiences. We need to hear a story of communities coming together in the face of despair, now more than ever.
What AOC brought on stage last night was nothing short of fantastic. Especially when considering that all roles are taken by volunteers, who spent many nights rehearsing the show fuelled by their passion.
Speaking to the Gaudie, Assistant Director Aaron Thom has confirmed the feeling that much of the energy that went on behind the scenes during rehearsals translated on stage.
It is a show that is famous to British audiences, either in its film, book, play or musical form. Yet, despite being a classic, it carries a powerful message to contemporary audiences. We need to hear a story of communities coming together in the face of despair, now more than ever.
It was certainly a night to remember, and one of the best productions I have seen put on stage since I went to see Chicago at His Majesty's Theatre.
Unlike Chicago, the actors and everyone else involved gave the audience two hours of unforgettable entertainment, despite not being professionals. It goes to show how passion, in this AOC production, truly was the fuel of the entire musical, making it a piece you don't want to miss.
You can buy your tickets for Calendar Girls here.
You can also support AOC Productions by donating, becoming a sponsor, or getting involved on stage.