Calamity Jane

Date 26th April 2018
Society In Your Face Theatre (Seaham)
Venue Seaham Town Hall
Type of Production Musical
Director Helen Abraham
Musical Director Tim Jasper


Author: Peter Oliver

Calamity Jane the stage musical is loosely based on the historical character Martha Jane Canary better known as Calamity Jane an American frontierswoman and professional scout and her association with Wild Bill Hickok. The stage musical adaptation in 1961 originated from the 1953 Warner Bros movie musical with Doris Day and Howard Keel and has become an old time favourite due to its good story line and terrific songs which are well known and memorable. Under the Direction of Helen Abraham she made certain that the cast produced a high level of acting and vocal achievement including some lovely harmonies and character interpretations, chorography looked effortless and added to the overall effect of the production with clean and uncomplicated dance routines and movement , well done to Steph Peacock for the “can- can” routine it looked impressive, Helen also ensured that she used the limited space to great effect, the set looked splendid especially the Golden Garter scenes and the clever use of the stage for Miss Adelaide’s dressing room and Calamity’s cabin, there were some lovely touches where the company were used to help set and change scenes and create backdrops for some of the numbers. Helen also knows the value of investing in lighting for the best affect and thanks to Paul Oliver the lighting looked imposing and certainly added different moods to the scenes, there was a good level of sound provided by Duncan Baxter and the sound effects were well cued. The band and music was in the capable hands of the Musical Director Tim Jasper who ensured that the balance between the cast and the orchestra was just right with no hint of drowning out dialogue during underscoring. Costumes and props were absolutely right for this production which enhanced the production thanks to Mistress of the Robe Liz Scott.

Calamity is a physically and vocally challenging role but from the minute Deborah Taylor-Smith adorned the deer skin costume she brought the character to life she delivered a terrific performance and captured the true essence of the character from tom-boy to bride, vocally she delivered her musical numbers well I particularly enjoyed “My Secret Love” and “Men” . Catherine Hillam gave us a lovely Katie Brown and her partnership with Deborah produced a force to be reckoned with, I loved her musical number “Keep It Under Your Hat” and “Its Harry I’m Planning to Marry” and her duets with Calamity  “Woman’s Touch” which was beautifully delivered, Shaun Crosby gave a believable performance a Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin, the chemistry between Danny and Katie was believable and well-acted and their duet “Love You Dearly” was well delivered. Ali Roberts gave a solid performance as Wild Bill Hickock there was some lovely scenes played out with Calamity and I enjoyed his musical numbers “Higher than a Hawk” and “Adelaide”, and the duets with Calamity “Finaletto” and “I Can Do Without You”. Barry Thomas gave a polished performance as Henry Miller The Golden Garter proprietor as did Yvonne Newton as his niece Susan Miller. There were some lovely scenes between Yvonne and Paul Henry as Francis Fryer not an easy part to play but Paul carried off the female impersonation with style and comedy and delivered his musical numbers “Everyone Complains About The Weather” and “Hive Full Of Money” well. Sam J Scott delivered a striking performance as Rattlesnake the stage coach driver as did Steph Peacock as Adelaid Adams who gave us a great performance and song “”Its Harry I’m Planning to Marry”. Congratulation to those in cameo roles all of whom added to performance  Peter Round as Doc Pierce, Dan Scott as the Indian, Darrel Rush as Pete and David Jackson as Hank the scouts and finally Norma Ord as Joe the Golden Garter bar tender as always fantastic character acting.

What I love about In Your Face Theatre Seaham is that every production that I have seen the cast comes together and they give a 100% and that enthusiasm cascades to the audience, Calamity Jane was no different  the  chorus gave a solid support to the principals and thy delivered the big chorus  numbers beautifully including “The Black Hills of Dakota” whilst always a bit of a showstopper the chorus certainly did themselves proud the whole company came together for this number and the result was absolutely beautiful as was the opening with “Deadwood Stage” and “Windy City”, well done to the senior ensemble all of whom had their own characters and displayed energy and enthusiasm, well done to Pat Cooper, Emily Harrison, Jennifer Henry, Anne Peacock and Irene Smith. It lovely to see how In Your Face Theatre Seaham have embraced the youth into their group and by doing so will help future proof their group and develop some future talent members, Well done to Danyl Neil, Corey Bone, Leyton Bone, Rebecca Moore, Leonie Emery, Aimee Louise Curtis, Emily J Kerr, Amber Scott and Charlie and Maysie Surtees.  Well done to all involved for your hard work in making this an enjoyable production.