Music: Sammy Fain
Lyrics: Paul Francis Webster
Adaptor: Charles K. Freeman
Choreographer: Nick Winston
Director: Nikola Foster
Reviewer: Ruth Gerrard
The popular film that starred Doris Day is back on the road with I’d Do Anything winner Jodie Prenger in the title rôle.
Using the life of Martha Jane Cannary (the real life Calamity Jane) as a basis for this rootin’ tootin’ tale full of thigh slaps, pistol firing and dancing. As a stagecoach rider in Deadwood, Calamity (Prenger) means well but has earned her nickname because despite her best intentions; disaster often follows her around and her tall tales have made her a local celebrity. Keen to be seen as one of the boys, she dresses in a more masculine style and can shoot with the best of them. Lusting after the local Lieutenant (Alex Hammond), Calamity seeks to find her own happy ending while assisting the residents od the town along the way. In a bid to help Henry Miller (Anthony Dunn)who runs the local bar and entertainment venue, she agrees to convince the beautiful Adelaide Adams (Christina Tedders) to perform at the venue but true to form; this does not pan out as out expected and brings all kinds of excitement and frivolity to the Black Hills of Dakota.
Prenger can certainly sing and brings a depth and warmth to the songs that suits the show well. Sounding a little dry this evening, which does lead to some vocal cracking on occasion; there is little doubt as the quality of her voice. There is a tendency to ham it up and there is a little too much mugging about going on which detracts from an otherwise strong performance. Prenger’s accent is good but at times her diction lets her down. This is most noticeable in Act One. Her dancing does not let her down and she certainly has the audience eating out of her hand.
It is hard to believe that this is only Tom Lister’s second musical as her plays Wild Bill Hancock with flair and class. Proving himself a very adept singer and actor her certainly looks at home in the rôle. There are no weak links in the cast but Bobby Delaney’s Francis Fryer is an absolute delight. He moves about the stage with elegance and flair and vocally is sublime.
The set (Matthew Wright) works well and is beautifully designed. Well lit by Richard G Jones, giving the piece the subtlety where needs and the big numbers the extra depth that makes them a rip-roaring success. The musical direction by Bobby Delaney is tight and the musicians work effortlessly together to give it an extra lift.
It’s hard not to have a soft spot for Calamity Jane and the songs seemto continually be passed down from generation to generation without losing their appeal. The whole cast numbers are a real pleasure and it is difficult not to Whip Crack Away with the best of them.
Runs until 28 March 2015