Calamity Jane at Bath Theatre Royal

Calamity Jane - Jodie Prenger as Calamity Jane and Tom Lister as Wild Bill Hickok - Photo credit Manuel HarlanTHE cast of the Watermill Newbury touring production of Calamity Jane are so full of infectious energy that the audience clearly wanted to join in the hoe-down finale.

The company that specialises in mounting shows in which the cast plays the music live on stage is at Bath Theatre Royal this week at the start of a lengthy 2015 UK tour.

The set, with its glittery proscenium and ram­shackle timber balconies, evokes the spirit of the wild west, and Nikolai Foster’s production is so well acted that it transcends the shallowness that sometimes infects “musicals”.

Calamity Jane was a real person, a sharpshooter and scout who roamed the Dakotas, and was one of the first literate women born in the territory. On this tour she’s personified by Jodie Prenger, who came to public attention as the winner of the right to play Nancy in Cameron Mackin­tosh’s revival of Oliver, and made her south west debut in pantomime in Yeovil back in 2004.

Jodie’s warmth and undaunted spirit is ideal for the role. Calam is a larger than life character, dressed in buckskins and given to exaggeration of her exploits, all to hide a tender heart.

She’s well matched by Tom Lister as Wild Bill Hickok, and Phoebe Street comes near to stealing the show (as well as Lt Danny Gilmartin) as Katie Brown.

For another FTR review of the production, before Christmas, see what MB had to say.

I wholly agree with him that it’s a terrific show, just the thing to warm the spirit on these chilly January nights.


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