Whip crack away, whip crack away, whip crack away. These words have been rolling around in my head for the last week since I saw Calamity Jane at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking. Terrible I know that it’s taken me a week to write this, however in my defence I was organising the first ever Wilma Awards which took place on Friday and was a huge success!
Calamity Jane was a 1953 musical-western film starring Doris Day and Howard Keel. It is a story of tom boy Calamity Jane who is everyone’s friend but never seen as a beautiful woman, especially by the man she loves, Danny Gilmartin. When the admired cabaret star Adelaid Adams arrives from Chicago, a love starts to blossom with Wild Bill Hancock but is Adelaid the one he really wants?
Jodie Prenger shines as Calamity Jane. She proves with this performance that although she might be a comedy performer (possibly one of the best the UK has), she is also a brilliant actress that deserves to be taken seriously. Why this lady hasn’t been cast as Madame Thenardier in Les Mis yet I don’t know (can someone please sort that out?). Vocally Jodie is perfect, putting everything she has into her performance. Her Dolly Parton esq accent is faultless and she seems to revel in her playground that is the stage.
Tom Lister, known for playing Carl King in the ITV soap Emmerdale for 9 years, does well as Wild Bill Hickok. Embracing the part and giving it his best cowboy impression.
Musical Director Bobby Delaney, who plays the part of Francis Fryer does an extraordinary job playing piano live on stage, whilst directing the rest of the actors in song and playing a lead role himself! This man must be exhausted after a performance but seems to take it in his stride doing a grand job.
The country and western songs are a thrill to listen to (if you like country music!). ‘It’s Harry I’m Planning To Marry’, ‘The Black Hills of Dakota’ and ‘Secret Love’ are just some of the toe tapping numbers that will have you humming for days after the show.
Calamity Jane is galloping around the UK until August 2015 and will be stopping off at the New Wimbledon Theatre in March. I will certainly be going again and I suggest you go and check it out too.
Reviewed by West End Wilma