Terminally-ill singer supports Brighton's Calendar Girls production

A Brighton performer living with terminal illness is supporting the BHOS (The Brighton & Hove Operatic Society) production of Calendar Girls The Musical at Theatre Royal Brighton (June 22-25). With music penned by Gary Barlow, the show is making its Brighton debut.

Singer and BHOS member Marc Valentine-Morton
Singer and BHOS member Marc Valentine-Morton

The award-winning musical, based on the hit film and stage play of the same name, tells the story of how the death of a much-loved husband prompts a group of ordinary women in a small Yorkshire Women’s Institute to do something extraordinary: produce a nude calendar fundraiser.

The production is especially poignant for BHOS who, inspired by one of their members receiving palliative care at Brighton’s Martlets Hospice, have pledged to give the life-changing centre 50 per cent of the production’s profits.

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Singer and BHOS member Marc Valentine-Morton, aged 48, is terminally ill with Poorly Differentiated Thyroid Cancer, which was diagnosed during the Covid pandemic, and is relying on Martlets Hospice for his daily palliative care.

Marc said: “Brighton Theatre and many of the cast of Calendar Girls have been a huge part of my life. When I heard that BHOS were raising money for Martlets I offered to help them sell as many tickets as possible. I made a short film at the Theatre Royal to promote the show, which was hugely emotional for me. In it I describe how my diagnosis has affected me, including the loss of my voice. Charitable donations which keep the hospice sector afloat have dropped 14 per cent between 2020 and 2021 with the cost of living crisis set to hit that level even harder in 2022 as families prioritise home over helping. My greatest fear is without Martlets if I decline in the next two years, I may be unable to pass in a facility near my husband and loved ones.”

Martlets is embarking on an exciting and much-needed £10 million rebuild of its hospice site in Hove over the next 18 month period to help it reach more people who need its care. While this rebuild is underway, the hospice has moved to a temporary site so they can continue providing for terminally ill people and their families.

Calendar Girls is being staged by Brighton & Hove Operatic Society (BHOS) and features West End actors Tania Newton and Emma Edwards in the lead roles of best friends Annie and Chris.

Tania said: “The show is a real rollercoaster of emotions – and in rehearsals we laugh one minute and cry the next. The music is joyful and it is such an uplifting story. It feels so appropriate that we are trying to help Marc and others in his situation. Marc is incredibly brave and generous to help us so passionately to do this. We really hope Brighton audiences will come out in force to enjoy a fantastic evening at the theatre all while supporting a much-loved local charity.”