REVIEW: Calamity Jane at Louth’s Riverhead Theatre

MAYBE it’s the superb direction by Pip Lill-Molloy and Ryan Clark. Maybe it’s the carefully constructed set by Bob Booth and his team.

Maybe it’s the pitch-perfect band led by Musical Director Keith Weston. Or maybe it’s everything put together including an astonishingly tremendous cast - but either way; there’s something very special about Calamity Jane and you won’t want to miss it.

After the timeless overture, the show opens in the Miss Frances Fryer saloon, Deadwood, with a powerful blast of Whip-Crack-Away where we are introduced to a whole host of characters including Calamity Jane (portrayed wonderfully by Laura Burns), Wild Bill Hickock (played by talented Aberystwyth University graduate Jamie Harris) and Henry Miller (played by the brilliant-as-always Peter Glanfield).

The show sets out on its action-packed journey narrating the classic story of Calamity Jane and Bill Hickock’s attempt at saving the neck of saloon owner Henry Miller, with well known musical numbers such as Careless With The Truth, Just Blew In From The Windy City, The Black Hills of Dakota, and many more.

Adam Barter dons a dress and pair of heels as Francis Fryer, Paula Tyler takes on the role of popular Adelaide Adams, Anna-Maria Vesey plays the hopeful Katie Brown, and multi-talented Derek Smith plays Lieutenant Gilmartin.

It’s very refreshing to see several new faces treading the boards as lead roles so magnificently.

A key feature of any musical that often goes un-noticed is the chorus – but that’s definitely not the case here. The chorus is a lively and believable one, always remaining in character to give each scene a rich depth and sense of reality.

Each and every chorus member has worked remarkably hard to develop their characters, master the demanding harmonies and adopt their broad American accents!

The costumes are detailed, vibrant and impeccably in keeping with the time era, although you would expect nothing less from the marvellous wardrobe team.

Similarly, all of the technical teams work incredibly hard to ensure that every inch of every scene looks as picture-perfect as it can be.

And let me not forget the orchestra - a group of talented musicians, of a wide range of ages, with a passion for music.

If you’ve not yet booked for Calamity Jane, it’s certainly a show you’re guaranteed to love, so be sure to get yourself booked now before it’s too late.

Just be careful with booking front row seats, as you may get a bit of an eyeful from the can-can dancers…!

Review by Stuart Spendlow.