The new cast for the hit stage adaptation of Calendar Girls has been announced. Among the new intake are former EastEnders stars Jill Halfpenny, Anita Dobson and Jack Ryder, alongside Albert Square’s longest serving resident June Brown.
Also in the new cast, which is due perform at the Noël Coward theatre from 28 July to 17 October, are Jerry Hall, Gemma Atkinson, Jill Baker, Richenda Carey and Sara Crowe.
Playwright Tim Firth, who adapted the stage show from his screenplay for the successful British film, is to revise the show’s script to better suit the new performers.
The trio of EastEnders actresses all have previous London theatre experience. Halfpenny, who also appeared in BBC drama Waterloo Road and won Strictly Come Dancing in 2004, previously appeared in Chicago, while Dobson received a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for her performance in the National Theatre production of Frozen.
Brown, who plays Dot Cotton in the BBC soap, previously appeared at the Noel Coward theatre as part of the Old Vic Company’s 1948/9 season, when the venue was known as the New theatre.
Hall, best known for her modelling past, previously starred in The Graduate and High Society, while Scottish actress Crowe’s London outings include Private Lives, Twelfth Night, Hay Fever and The Constant Wife.
Ryder and Atkinson, the cast’s youngest members, are both soap opera veterans, Ryder becoming well-known for playing Jamie Mitchell in EastEnders and Atkinson rising to fame as Hollyoaks’s Lisa Hunter.
Calendar Girls, the comic drama which tells the story of a group of WI members who find a rather risqué way of raising money for charity, opened at the Noel Coward theatre in April. The current cast, which performs until 25 July, includes Lynda Bellingham, Patricia Hodge, Sian Phillips, Gaynor Faye, Brigit Forsyth, Julia Hills and Elaine C Smith.