Calamity Jane at the Rugeley Rose Theatre – Review

Wednesday 1 to Saturday 4 May 2019

By Jono Oates

Yeeey-haah! The Rugeley Musical Theatre Company production of the classic musical Calamity Jane is full of fun, fabulous music and pistol-packing action!

One of the most iconic images in musical history is that of Doris Day bouncing around on the Deadwood stage with her cowboy hat, tom-boy appearance and firing her six-shooter at those pesky Injuns in the all-time classic film version of Calamity Jane!
The Rugeley Musical Theatre Company have chosen Calamity as their latest production and it’s an inspired choice. The stage musical was first performed in 1961 and was based on the 1953 Warner Brothers Film starring, of course, Doris Day in the lead role. The stage version features more songs than the original film, with one of the best songbooks in musical theatre, with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster and music by Sammy Fain.

The RMTC perform at the Rugeley Rose Theatre on Taylor’s Lane and it’s a lovely compact theatre with an open, welcoming stage, and with great, clear views from every seat and angle.

The plot of Calamity centres on the relationship between the eponymous heroine and Wild Bill Hickok. Hickok, one of the most famous lawmen in Wild West history, has now settled into a more peaceful life in Deadwood City where he enjoys winding up the headstrong Calamity Jane, making fun of her claims that she is one of the most feared gunslingers in Dodge and that she has single-handedly wiped out half of the Sioux Indian nation! Calamity has more amorous intentions with dashing US Army officer Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin who sees Wild Bill as a rival for her affections.  Meanwhile Henry Miller, who runs the local saloon, has hired an actress to sing at the saloon only to find that what he thought was a female Frances Fryer turns out to be a very male actor Francis Fryer! As the mood of the locals turns ugly Calamity promises to make things right by heading off to Chicago to bring back the famous singer Adelaide Adams only to be misled by Adams’ maid Katie Brown that she is the real Adelaide. Once Katie is unmasked as a look-a-like it appears that Calamity will become the villain of Deadwood but, there is a happy ending as Calamity, Wild Bill, Lt Gilmartin and young Katie all find their true loves and peace and harmony descends on Deadwood!

The RMTC group has great fun with this production. The script and music lend itself perfectly to this ensemble with a tight, funny, and witty script and the songbook is to die for – Its Harry I’m Planning to Marry; Windy City; the Black Hills of Dakota; Secret Love and, of course, the Deadwood Stage are just some of the hit songs form this smash-hit of a musical. It’s very easy to find yourself humming along and tapping your feet as the cast perform hit after hit.
There are good, strong performances all round with Kittie James as the winsome and sweet Katie Brown, Roger Teece as the tall, gangly Francis Fryer (very funny when in drag as the female Frances!); Matthew Hunt as the bluecoat officer Gilmartin, David Stacey as the blustering Henry Miller and Connor James as an imposing Wild Bill.
However it is Calamity Jane and Hana Bradbury in the lead role is excellent throughout, a lovely singing voice and a funny, spiky, sassy, strong-willed and engaging performance as Jane. She is on stage almost throughout the whole of the show, it is one of the most demanding roles in stage musicals and it is a very fine performance – and she looked like she was enjoying every single second!

The ensemble cast are all very good and I particularly enjoyed The Black Hills of Dakota scene with moody atmospheric lighting and the cast walking from the theatre doors to the stage holding lanterns while singing this classic song very sweetly – lovely.

This is a very fine production of Calamity Jane and the cast all look like they are having a great time and enjoying every moment, it is a classic musical that will appeal to young and old, and the songs are some of the best that you will hear in any stage musical. It’s a good fun musical with a good fun cast and will leave you with a good fun feeling – it’s definitely worth catching the Deadwood stage to see Calamity Jane at the Rugeley Rose Theatre!

Calamity Jane by the Rugeley Musical Theatre runs until Saturday 4 May, performances start at 7.30pm and tickets, priced £12 (£10 for children / concessions) are available by ringing 01889 584036 or via the website:
www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/staffs/rugeley-rose-theatre/calamity-jane/e-elxdry

 

 

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