Liz Coggins reviews Calamity Jane at Leeds Grand Theatre
Often known as the ‘poor man’s Annie Get Your Gun’ director Nikolai Foster has proved the old adage wrong for his production is colourful, imaginative and moves at a whip-cracking pace.
A pared-down low budget production that cleverly uses actor-singer-musicians to add to its rich sound track the way the story unfolds on one set is at times ingenious. Stage coaches are created using chairs and a piano and the saloon stage with clever lighting transforms into at least half a dozen locations – all of them totally believable.
Calamity Jane has a plethora of Oscar winning songs including Black Hills of Dakota, Windy City, The Deadwood Stages and of course Secret Love and although it appears an easy score its one that’s difficult to sing at times but each number comes up to the audiences expectations..
As the gun-toting Calamity Jodie Prenger has just what it takes to make the perfect Calam – vitality and gusto, especially in the vocal numbers.
Tom Lister’s Wild Bill is a little tame and sophisticated – perhaps it’s the suit which doesn’t quite fit with the character – but after a while he toughens up and becomes a little more convincing.
Bobby Delaney makes a fabulous Francis Fryer, with a characterization that’s perfection combined with his amazing talent of combining the role with that of musical director so skilfully unless you read the programme you would never know!
With a strong supporting cast and a versatile, energetic multi-talented cast Calamity Jane has an infectious feel good factor and will have you singing all the way to the car park.
To 27th June