Calamity Jane

Date 12th May 2014
Society Riverside Musical Theatre Company
Venue Park View Theatre, Chester-le-Street
Type of Production Musical
Director Sheila May
Musical Director Graham Pargeter
Choreographer Sheila May


Author: Peter Oliver

Riverside Musical Theatre Company chose for their annual production ‘Calamity Jane’, which all-time favourite never fails to entertain. This production was no exception, giving the audience an evening of fun and enjoyment set in the Wild West.

The show was full of energy from the opening number, with Calamity Jane and the chorus singing “The Deadwood Stage”, and did not diminish. The entire production was thoroughly enjoyable. Sheila May, as Director and Choreographer, inspired her cast to give the audience an evening of sheer entertainment, and this was evident from the performance, the enjoyment of the cast and the applause from the audience throughout. The production made full use of the stage and the choreography was suited to the actors on stage, keeping the numbers simple and effective in order that the whole company could join in, and it worked very well.  Musically, the production was solid, with excellent sound balance from the pit and stag.  Musical Director Graham Pargeter and accompanist Claire Mordue ensured excellent tempo, control and harmony.

The show, of course, revolves around its principal lady, and Calamity Jane was played by Melanie King.  Stepping in at the last moment, Melanie gave it her all, owning the stage and making this part her own, giving an admiral performance.  Vocally she had the right raucous voice you would expect for this part which was so well known by Doris Day.  She was able to keep this up throughout her dialogue, and her accent was perfect. She was able to get the different emotions across through her musical numbers “Men”, “Windy City” and the more passionate number  “Secret Love”, an excellent believable performance.  Melanie was ably partnered by Andrew Fearon, as Wild Bill Hicock, who gave a good strong performance in his part. His song “Higher Than a Hawk” was really good and moving, and I particularly enjoyed the duet with Calamity “I Can Do Without You”.  There was another good partnership in Catherine Hillam, as Katie Brown, and Martyn Hampton-Matthews as the smooth Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin. They both performed the duet “Love You Dearly” harmonising well and give a strong performance in their roles.  Susan was played by Amy Manning who gave a good performance, as did Phillip Mezzo, as Francis Fryer, who brought many a laugh to the audience with his witty performance.  Also giving an enjoyable performance was Kevin Thornhill, as Henry Miller, and Julie Laws, as Alelaide Adams.  Although is only a small part, she was able to make a mark on this production and performed her musical number “Its Harry I’m Planning to Marry“ well. Special mention must also go to David Griffin who played Doc, Maurice Edmondson playing Rattlesnake, Michael Beckford as Joe and Ray Gowland as the Colonel.  The chorus were also very good, providing good attention to detail as were the dancers who gave their all, especially in the Can-Can routine.

The set design and costumes added to the recreation of the time, simple but effective.  Without exception the whole cast worked together to ensure that they delivered a remarkable and enjoyable performance.  Well done to everyone at Riverside Musical Theatre Company on an excellent performance