Calamity Jane rode into Woking’s New Victoria Theatre to an enthusiastic audience. The opening banjo tune of ‘Black Hills of Dakota’ had people humming along and from then on every familiar tune was met with a response from people reliving happy memories.
The cast were a strong ensemble with obvious rapport especially between Jodie Prenger as Calamity and Tom Lister as Wild Bill Hickok, which worked in the scenes where they spark off each other during the story. Jodie Prenger leaves no one in any doubt about her vocal ability which fills the theatre. Taking on a role most familiar to many in the audience filled by Doris Day in the famous film would be daunting to many, she fills those shoes and dances all over the score making her own mark and making her Calamity a unique and tremendous performance. The character she brings to the role, the relationships with other characters make it a heartwarming event.
Sioned Saunders as Susan gives great musical performances and as a character bringing the strands of the story through from introducing Calamity at the beginning. She sets the scene as her Uncle Henry Miller, the theatre owner bursts through the curtain with his brass instrument aloft, the Deadwood stage roles into town and brings the wrong actor, Francis with an i with it. Calamity is goaded to search for the famous Adelaide Adams with the promise that Wild Bill will appear as the Queen of England if she does. She does bring an Adelaide she found, who turns out to be plain old Katie Brown played by Phoebe Street, not so plain after all and who snares Calamity’s crush Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin much to her chagrin. The ensuing high drama settles into all the people ending up with the right partners, guns back into holsters and Jane has found her man, who appreciates her as a sharpshooter and a woman.
There’s something about the era that musicals of this ilk come from, we think they are reactionary and yet they celebrate those wild women of the west who trail-blazed their way through a man’s world. Looks like those two ladies are drinking to that!
Calamity Jane is at the New Victoria Theatre from Tuesday 4 – Saturday 8 November tickets available from http://www.atgtickets.com