Redditch Operatic Society brought a piece of South Dakota to the heart of Redditch last night with their rootin', tootin' production of Calamity Jane.
A popular choice amongst theatre groups around the Midlands recently, it's always a musical that you can't help but hum and smile along to.
The stage was crammed full of enthusiastic individuals and first night nerves were banished quickly. Taking on the title role of the feisty Calamity was Lisa Lilwall, her passion for performing clearly shone through. She was matched exceedingly well with Mark Williams as Wild Bill Hickock, who's stage presence and rich tone was pleasing to the eyes and ear. The duet of Secret Love was a particular stand-out moment.
A crystal clear vocal and all-round performance from Emma Hopcroft as Katie Brown was a highlight, every so often reminding me of Allyn Ann McLerie's portrayal of Katie Brown in the film, it was a delight.
Supporting was Sam Smith as Danny Gilmartin, a star turn from Ryan Allen as Francis Fryer (especially in a Hive Full of Honey) and Tim Eagleton as the ever-flustered Henry Miller. Eagleton delivered an endearing and enjoyable performance throughout.
There may have been some first night stumbles, but this did not deter from the spirited performances from the entire cast, both lead and ensemble. The incredibly large cast over-spilled the Redditch Palace stage as they ably sang through the classic numbers such as Windy City and Deadwood Stage. However, it was in the second half when the ensemble really made their mark. The Black Hills of Dakota was beautifully harmonised, credit also due to Musical Director Tom Porter.
The pacey production was well directed by duo Jean Chalk and Pauline Elliker and difficult scene changes were well-masked.
All in all it was a charming performance of this classic piece of musical theatre, so head on down to Redditch Palace Theatre this week. The show runs until Saturday 21 November.
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