Yes, it's a brave venture to stage a classic film musical but the cast of Calamity Jane almost get away with it. The image of Doris Day as the gun-totin', whip-cracking heroine is an indelible one but fifty years on Toyah Willcox certainly gives her it best shot, brimming with energy and zipping around stage with eager zest.
Ed Curtis' production uses minimal staging, setting the scene of Dakota with a simple, effective backdrop expertly lit by James Whiteside. An energetic cast happily recreate the old West and with one of the most gloriously upbeat scores on offer, there's plenty of fun to be had. The choreography is unimaginative though well executed and a mite more dynamism from the ensemble would be welcome.
Although Willcox doesn't manage to capture Calamity's vulnerability and seems far happier in action than in repose, but playing opposite her Michael Cormick's superb Wild Bill Hickock is an absolute delight. His interpretation of the character is flawless: gruff, charismatic and with an outstanding singing voice, he lifts the production effortlessly by virtue of sheer quality. Less impressive are Kellie Ryan's Katie Brown and Garry Kilby's Danny Kilmartin, both of whom lack conviction. This notwithstanding and largely courtesy of Cormick's star turn, Calamity transcends its name and emerges as a pleasant if not memorable night out.
Notices from the popular press....
MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "The show's saving graces are Sammy Fain's score and Craig Revel Horwood's choreography." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "She [Toyah Willcox ] is the bubbling epicentre of Ed Curtis’s relentlessly larky production." PAUL TAYLOR for THE INDEPENDENT says, "Hit-and-miss." PATRICK MARMION for TIME OUT says, "Toyah Willcox is horribly miscast as Calamity."
External links to full reviews from newspapers