The gold mining town of Deadwood in the American West of the 1870s is so remote that the promised arrival of a glamorous new actress on the next stage coach is of great public interest. The town is angry when it learns that they’ve been saddled with a male actor, (Francis with an ‘i’ instead of Frances with an ‘e’) due to crossed wires followed by a cover up!
The star of the show Calamity Jane can outrun and outshoot any man in Deadwood. She’s hard, boastful and desperate to impress, so is determined to sort out the mix up and rashly promises to travel to Chicago to recruit a famous star for the Deadwood Stage. But things don’t go too smoothly for Calamity, as everyone in town favours the new girl and she struggles to keep her jealousy and pride in check. It takes her long-standing enemy Wild Bill Hickok to make her see sense, and realise her Secret Love…
Calamity Jane – Jodie Prenger ‘won’ the role of ‘Nancy’ in Cameron Mackintosh’s West End production of “Oliver!” through the BBC television series “I’d Do Anything”.
Wild Bill Hickock – Tom Lister is probably best known to TV audiences for his nine year stint as ‘Carl King’ in ITV’s “Emmerdale”.
Based on a true life colourful personality from the Wild West, Calamity Jane struts onto stage in her fringed deer hide leathers. Although tough living wild women like her weren’t that unusual in the wild west, she’s clearly a different breed from the other, more conventional women in the show, who sport traditional clothes of the day – long skirts or dresses and hair up. The masculine way ‘Calam’ walks and talks suggest that this is not somebody to be messed with.
Jodie plays calamity with her trademark husky voice and an enthusiastic frontier spirit throughout and Tom Lister is great all round as Bill Hickok. Phoebe Street performs and sings beautifully as Katie.
This is quite a small cast of only fifteen but the show is action packed. Not only do the actors cover various roles, but they also form the orchestra, casually scooping up their instruments when its time to perform a number.
The set is simple and hardly alters, but I was amused by little touches, like the cymbal decorating the wall of the bar actually being played in situ.
A clever stunt when a shot is fired from the stage, smashing a glass, without maiming any audience members. Clever huh?
Smooth transitions between dialogue, singing, playing of musical instruments and dancing.
A hearty hoe-down of a finale, featuring male dancers with superb timing and impressive energy.
This is a great fun show which worked for all our ages. My boys were especially excited because they knew one of the cast, who’s a regular visitor to their school.
For my parents, queuing up to see films like the award winning 1953 musical “Calamity Jane”, starring Doris Day and Howard Keel, was simply part of being a teenager. It’s such a pleasure for me being able to take them to see a live musical and hear first hand the opinions of those who were there first time around, alongside the first impressions of my own children. This time I have gleaned that my Mother might have had a bit of a soft spot for Howard Keel – didn’t all the ladies?? She agrees with me though that Tom Lister made quite an acceptable replacement as Wild Bill Hickock!
The children only have to think of Frozen to understand how songs like The Deadwood Stage,Secret Love and The Black Hills of Dakota were such huge numbers in their day.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that my boys love going to the theatre but as well as the obvious entertainment value, there’s often the added bonus of learning something about a different culture or another era. In the remote town of Deadwood the townsmen are hankering after the ‘famous actress’ Adelaide Adams. They’ve only ever seen her portrayed on a little cigarette card and this becomes pivotal to the plot. My eight year old was intrigued:-
What’s he holding?
Of course my children had never heard of cigarette cards. It must be hard for them to imagine that people could possibly have once existed without social media or even mainstream media!
One of the things my eight year old liked was that there was dialogue between the songs, as opposed to an Andrew Lloyd Webber sing-through. I know what he means, as this probably makes the plot easier to follow.
If you fancy a bit of escapism, some catchy songs and a happy ending, you can’t go wrong with this version of Calamity Jane.