Theatre Review:
Calamity Jane, The Lyric Players

Whip crack away: The Lyric Players gave a great rendition of Calamity Jane

 

The programme stated director James Fortune had spent his life writing and directing, including feature films, and in this production his professional expertise clearly shone. The Lyric Players’ precision, grouping, pace and seamless flow brought unalloyed pleasure to the full house at the Charles Cryer Studio Theatre. The director was of course aided and abetted by music director Debbie Warren and choreographer Patricia Thompsett.

The story was nonsense but this was musical comedy and as long as there was romance, catchy tunes and a bit of comedy you had an evening’s entertainment for a satisfied audience.

It was a great part for a gal who thought she was a bit of a fella, called Calamity Jane. Played by an athletic and rightly over the top Whitney Jackson she gave us a rousing ‘The Deadwood Stage’ and a likeable ‘Careless with the Truth’. She finally became sentimental with ‘My Secret Love’, and discovered after all that she really loved Wild Bill Hickock (Lee Power). Not surprising when you heard the mellifluous tones of his baritone.

The plot was very complicated – Francis Fryer (Peter Calver) was thought to be a female entertainer with the name Frances and he made a lasting impression with his failed drag act. He sang nicely and was rewarded with the hand of the attractive niece Susan (Laura Brand) of the nervous and put-upon proprietor of the ‘Golden Garter Saloon’ (Geoff Brown).

Because of the foregoing they attempted to import the fabulous Adelaide Adams (Cat Longhurst) who departed for Europe after one song leaving her maid Katie Brown to impersonate her. The latter was gently played by Melissa Cox who sang the most delightful duet (Love You Dearly) with her lover Danny Gilmartin (Richard Allen) who Calamity Jane thought was her property. You can see how complicated it all became.

I liked the saloon Can Can dancers and that the periodic outbursts of rage by the chorus were so disciplined that not a word of the storyline was lost.

Perhaps the Wild West costumes were not always in keeping with my Wild West thoughts. Hickock’s pin stripes for example and the gun belts looked a little like Woolworths, but nitpicking aside, this was a great show.

Peter Steptoe

4 stars

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