They were ordinary Yorkshire women from the WI — who rallied together to achieve something truly amazing.
And the new musical by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth celebrating the inspirational Calendar Girls takes you on a rollercoaster ride of love, loss, hope and incredible bravery.
The Girls, which enjoyed its world premiere at The Grand Theatre, Leeds , last night, is a celebration of all things Yorkshire — our beautiful Dales, close-knit communities, our dry wit and defiant pride.
The opening number, Yorkshire , introduces the cast and sets the tone for the show's musical style — witty, conversational and full of uplifting melodies and empowering high notes.
You can't help but get drawn in to the lives of the ladies of the Knapely Women's Institute. You recognise your own family and friends in them — aunts, family friends, teachers.
Listen to the show's opening number:
In Scarborough , when Annie Clarke (played by Joanna Riding) sings about trips to the coast, arguing over margarine in Tesco and all the normal things we take for granted, the familiarity of the words makes the subsequent scenes even more painful.
But while many in the audience (including myself) shed a tear on more than one occasion, The Girls' empowering crescendo is more likely to prompt tears of joy.
This was no ordinary WI calendar — this was determined, inspirational women coming together to honour a great man, help their friend through a devastating loss and show the world exactly what they're made of.
Chris, made instantly lovable by Claire Moore, is the best friend every woman needs — loyal, confident, a bit mad — but an absolute rock. The chemistry between Chris and Annie had you in stitches one minute and fighting back the tears the next.
The penultimate scene — shooting the calendar — was the flamboyant finale everyone had been waiting for, and superb performances from the WI girls (including an unforgettable late arrival by Ruth (Debbie Chazen)) had the audience cheering them on all the way.
Josh Benson, Ben Hunter and Chloe Jackson stole many a scene as the show's youth contingent (Tommo, Danny and Jenny respectively), with the boys earning some of the biggest laughs of the night.
Because that's how Yorkshire folk deal with loss, struggles and challenges — dry wit, daft jokes, good friends and a cup of tea.
With these things, and a bit of hope, you can take on the world — and in real life, that's what the women of the Rylstone and District WI did.
Which made it all the more emotional when they joined the cast on stage at the end of the show.
And the audience in Leeds last night were given an extra treat when creators Tim Firth and Gary Barlow also appeared to lead a rousing rendition of Yorkshire during the final curtain call.
It was a special night — not just because Gary Barlow was in the building (and yes there was screaming), but because the show was a real celebration of these remarkable women.
Take a trip to the Grand — you'll find yourself laughing, crying and cheering them on too.
The Girls is at Leeds Grand Theatre until Saturday December 12th.
Tickets are on sale now priced from £10 to £45.
Book online at leedsgrandtheatre.com or call Box Office on 0844 848 2700.