Packed full of well-known songs including Deadwood Stage, Whip Crack Away and The Black Hills of Dakota; Calamity Jane is one of those classic shows guaranteed to have the audience humming their way out of the theatre, and Tamworth Arts Club’s production is no exception.
It is the singing throughout the production which really stands out and carries the show along. Full credit is due to Sue Arthur for her sympathetic musical direction. The principal performers grasp their solo moments with great energy and their voices blend well together in duets, while the ensemble deliver powerful, balanced harmonies in all their numbers.
Funny and brash; Jenny Barlow-Jennings is perfect in the title role with a strong voice that really comes into its own in Secret Love. Excellent vocals too from Andrew Gilman as Wild Bill Hickok and Nicola Downs as Katie Brown, while Connor Brooks adds a near-show stealing performance as Francis Fryer.
The set is simple yet works well and avoids the need for clumsy scene changes. The Assembly Room stage is small for the cast of 35 which leads to some static staging in places and this can slow the pace of the action a little. That aside, this is a warm, charming production which gives everyone on and off-stage a moment in the spotlight – the front of house staff in western costume setting the tone of the evening from the first entrance into the building.
This is a classic show that is so well-known, so iconic in Doris Day’s career that it is difficult to take it in a new direction, but Tamworth Arts Club have succeeded in creating a show with just the right balance of slapstick, showbiz and timeless romance to satisfy old fans and new audiences alike.
Runs until Saturday 17 October at Tamworth Assembly Rooms.
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