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Calamity Jane

Date

13th April 2019

Society

Spennymoor Stage and Song

Venue

Spennymoor Town Hall

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Eric Hickson

Assistant Director

Karen Butler

Musical Director

Martyn Jones

Choreographer

Anne-Marie Claton

Report

Author: Peter Oliver

Many thanks to Spennymoor Stage and Song’s management committee for inviting me to ride into Deadwood City to review their 2019 musical extravaganza “Calamity Jane”, loosely based on the historical figure Martha Jane Cannary better known as Calamity Jane, the story was first brought to the screen in 1953 as a musical western by Warner Brother, staring Doris Day as Calamity and Howard Keel as Wild Bill Hickok , eight years later in 1961 the stage musical opened with an additional six new musical numbers before moving to England in 1974  when it premiered at the Sheffield Crucible.

As always, a big thank you to the front of house team for offering me a warm welcome and it was lovely to see a full house for this well-known musical. Director Eric Hickson and Assistant Director Karen Butler pooled their skills and knowledge to produce a polished and visually well performed production. Music was in the competent hands of Martyn Jones the Musical Director and his orchestra Jackie Adamson, Alan Beaumont and David Young who delivered a well-balanced and good clear sound that supported the singers and enabled the audience to clearly hear the beautiful lyrics which added to the shows overall impact. Choreography was artistically created by Anne Marie Clayton and dance captain Stacey Thompson I loved how they used the dancers as part of the production and this worked extremely well especially in the can-can routine which I thought was well choreographed and ensured that each dancer, whatever the level of ability, delivered a well preformed routine with clear lines and at the correct level for everyone to participate, well done to Eve Angstmann, Alex Catterson, Abbie Newman, Rebekah Newman, Jessica Riley and Stacey Thompson. The set design was impressive and looked authentic well done to Eric he certainly is creative when it comes to his creative design with the cloths which helped depict each scene, props were appropriate and the lighting was good although I do appreciate the venue has limited resources to produce a specialised lighting plot, sound was good and created a good balance which enabled the audience to clearly hear both the musical numbers and dialogue. Well done to the stage crew lead by David Jackson as stage manager his team ensured that the changes were covered adequately which ensured a seamless performance, Costumes looked professional and were in the correct period which suited the characters the cast were depicting. 

The performance open to the iconic musical number “Deadwood Stage” and what an opening, beautifully sang and visually the set looked fantastic, lots of energy from the cast which created an impressive opening. Playing the leading role was Wendy Lynn as Calamity Jane and what a pair of lungs this lady has, she delivered her musical numbers with ease and conviction. I particularly enjoyed the iconic number “Secret Love”, “Men”, “Windy City” and her duets “I Can Do Without You” with Bill Hickok and “A Women’s Touch” with Katie, good stage presence and interaction with the other cast members and maintained good diction and accent throughout. Liam Etherington delivered a sterling performance as Wild Bill Hickok, good acting and stage presence and he delivered his musical numbers confidently especially “Adelaide” with the male chorus and one of my favourite musical numbers of the show “Higher Than A Hawk”. Ian Patterson played the sticking Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin again good stage presence and characterisation and a confident vocal ability especially his duet with Katie “Love You Dearly”. Katie Brown was beautifully played by Jayne Etherington she positively played the complexity of this character especially the love triangle between Bill and Danny showing warmth and compassion a good performance from this young lady, good vocals especially in her musical number “Its Harry I’m Planning To Marry” and “Keep It Under Your Hat”. Playing the role of the proprietor of the Golden Garter was Gordon Richardson; Gordon delivered a convincing performance of this nervous and erratic character, good interaction with the other cast members especially his young niece Susan played by Alex Graham who portrayed her character well. Michael Coulson delivered a stand out performance as Francis Fryer, I loved the way Michael interpreted his character which resulted in a proficient performance which was full of energy and aplomb all of which contributed to the shows overall impact, vocally I enjoyed his musical numbers especially “Everyone Complains About The Weather” and my favourite “Hive Full Of Honey”. There were some confident performances from the cast in the smaller cameo roles congratulations to Susan Raper as Adelaide Adams whilst only a small role this character connected the story together and I loved Susan’s interpretation of her musical number “Its Harry Im Planning To Marry”.  Malcolm Quinn   delivered a great interpretation of Rattlesnake with some interesting comedy moments, and finally well done to Eric Hickson as Doc Pierce, Jordon Cockburn as Joe and David Jackson as Colonel of Fort Scully all of whom contributed to the entertainment value and successes of this production.          

Spennymoor Stage and Song has a strong chorus that underpins the performance well done to Karen Butler, Ann Marie Clayton, Angela Eason, Sarah Gray, Lucy Greathead, Stewart Harland, Bethany Hitchen, Jessica Horniman, Christopher Jones, Robyn McGough, Susan Marley, Jennifer Revell, Susan Rodgers, Paul Simpson, Tia Symons and Margaret Thompson who performed some lovely vocals and harmonies especially in the chorus numbers “The Black Hills of Dakota” and “The Windy City”.

Thank you once again for your kind invitation and well done to everyone involved in Calamity Jane on yet another great performance.