Jennifer Caldwell on Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World

Jennifer Caldwell headshot
Photo: Sukey Parnell Photography

Based on the popular book by Suffragette relative Kate Pankhurst, Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, the pop musical that celebrates women throughout history, is going back on tour later this month. The musical, with music from Girls Aloud’s songwriter Miranda Cooper and a book by Olivier Award-winning writer Chris Bush, previously last nationally in 2022, including a month-long run at Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The cast features Jennifer Caldwell, Elena Breschi, Georgia Grant-Anderson, Chlöe Hart, Leah Vassell, Millie Kiss, Summer Priest and Rachel Seirian. Caldwell, who has also featured in the companies of Mamma Mia! and Six the Musical in London’s West End, plays the Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst in the production.

As the cast refined their performances in rehearsals, we got Caldwell’s take on the musical, what it’s like to be going out on tour and how important it is to tell these women’s stories.

Q&A with Jennifer Caldwell

What can you tell us about Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, and your role in
the show?

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is an energetic, fast paced and touching musical in which our protagonist, Jade, gets lost in a museum, stumbling across the “gallery of greatness” – in this gallery she meets incredible historical women who help her find herself and realise that we all have the power to change the world inside of us!

My roles in the show are Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the spearheads of the woman’s suffrage movement; she was instrumental in women being granted the right to vote and put wheels in motion to change the way women were treated in England. I also have the honour to portray ‘Agent Fifi’ or Marie Christine Chilver; she was an incredible spy during WW2, testing other spies, their abilities (and often inabilities) to keep government secrets. These brilliant women are just the tip of the iceberg – there are many many more!!!

How does it feel to be taking the show on a national tour?

Taking this show on tour is an absolute honour – to take these stories around the country to people who want to be introduced (or reintroduced) to these fantastic women is a privilege and I, for one, can’t wait.

A production image of the 2022 cast on tour. Photo: Pamela Raith Photography

Just how important is it to be going out there and telling the stories of these women?

So important! These women deserve to have their stories told, whether they are already very well known or not. We need stories like these, now more than ever, to uplift and, hopefully, inspire future generations to keep changing the world.

What has the rehearsal process been like?

The rehearsal process has been a whirlwind so far. Although the show is only 80 minutes (or thereabouts), it is JAM PACKED! We have been learning a lot and filling our brains with as much knowledge as possible, as well as the script, songs and choreography! Our hope is just that we do these women’s stories justice.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the show?

I hope the audience will leave the show feeling like they have learned something, they feel uplifted, they’re singing all of the incredible songs and that they’re inspired to create change in the world in whatever way they can!

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World begins its national tour on 30 November in London at the New Wimbledon Theatre.

Full tour dates:

London New Wimbledon Theatre: 30 Nov – 2 Dec 2023

Salford – Lowry: 5 Dec 2023 – 7 Jan 2024

Cardiff – Wales Millennium Centre: 17 – 21 Jan 2024

Milton Keynes – Milton Keynes Theatre: 24 – 27 Jan 2024

Coventry – Belgrade Theatre: 7 – 11 Feb 2024

Chichester – Festival Theatre: 14 – 18 Feb 2024

Newcastle – Theatre Royal: 21 – 25 Feb 2024

Leeds – Grand Theatre: 28 Feb – 3 Mar 2024

Nottingham – Theatre Royal: 12 – 16 Mar 2024