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  • Writer's pictureAmrat

Calendar Girls at The Mill at Sonning | Review

Image showing The Mill at Sonning Theatre with lots of plants and trees surrounding.
The Mill at Sonning

Set majestically on the banks of the River Thames, the Mill at Sonning Theatre is celebrating more than 40 years of entertainment. Uniquely, as one of the only dinner theatres in the United Kingdom, it has gained unrivalled praise both nationally and internationally, winning awards such as the 2023 UK  Theatre Award Winner for the Best Musical Production for GYPSY, and The Most Welcoming Theatre 2016, 2017 and 2018.


It was my second visit to The Mill at Sonning Theatre, and it was just as pleasant as the first. In addition to its charm, this theatre provides a very comfortable and relaxing atmosphere before and after performances. A huge part of the enjoyment of attending the theatre is the excellent service. A lovely location, very tranquil, and some outdoor seating for those sunny days make the theatre a wonderful place to watch a show.


Left hand image: Dame Judi Dench and Simon Williams on stage at The Mill at Sonning with Sewa Zamba and Reeus Sugden, second year students from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama | Photo Andreas Lambis

Right hand image: An artist’s impression of the new extension at The Mill at Sonning


Dame Judi Dench has launched a £600,000 fundraising appeal for a new rehearsal block, a band room and offices at the Mill at Sonning Theatre with an afternoon event celebrating her life and career. The Mill at Sonning is a great space and a source of employment and entertainment for the local community, and this new rehearsal block will only enhance its value and support for the arts and we should all support.


Image showing an animated poster of Calendar Girls with three nude women covering their modesty with knitting wool, a cake and sunflowers.
Calendar Girls

Recently, I was invited to review Calendar Girls, a very familiar story about a fundraising effort based on a 2003 film. Calendar Girls is based on a true story about a group of middle-aged Yorkshire women who, after a member's (of Women's Institutes) husband died from cancer in April 1999, made a nude calendar to raise funds for Leukaemia Research.


There's no real surprise to this story and most people know what happens, but the production was excellent and the acting was outstanding, which is testament to Sally Hughes' excellent direction. The show definitely had a sense of old-school sitcom and some carry-on vibes, but that fits in with its nature and how nudity has historically been dealt with. There were some funny parts in the play, but I think there was a missed opportunity to really revamp the production and to use the original as inspiration. All things considered, it was a ray of sunshine that left one feeling hopeful, and it spoke very well to the audience it attracts.


I found the use of props to be very creative, and although at one point a background prop didn't open as planned (it eventually did), the actors very fluidly improvised, confirming my earlier statement about the great acting. The cast members are very much seasoned professionals and a joy to watch.


Venue

The Mill at Sonning Theatre

Sonning Eye

RG4 6TY Reading


Dates:

11 April - 1 June 2024


Performance schedule

Evening shows Wed - Sat

Sat matinees every week

Sun matinees: 21 & 28 April, 12 & 19 May


FOR MATINEE PERFORMANCES:

Restaurant open and serving lunch from 12.15pm – 2pm

Performance starts 2.15pm

FOR EVENING PERFORMANCES

Restaurant open and serving dinner from 6.15pm – 8pm

Performance starts 8.15pm


Website and Booking:


Price:

Between £74 and £85

*All tickets include a delicious two-course meal in the restaurant before the show

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