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Calamity Jane, Palace Theatre, Manchester

The American Wild West of the 1800s came to Manchester in the form of the musical Calamity Jane in a brand new calamity jane2stage version based on the 1953 Oscar-winning film, starring Doris Day and Howard Keel.  It tells the true story of Calamity Jane and her romance with Wild Bill Hickok.

The curtain rises on the Deadwood bar and saloon with the talented cast of actors/musicians singing The Black Hills of Dakota and here we meet Jodie Prenger as the whip-cracking, sharp-shooting Calamity Jane, in a role that could have been especially written for her.

Jodie won the role of Nancy in the West End production of the musical Oliver! after winning BBC TV’s I’d do Anything, with Graham Norton and Andrew Lloyd Webber.  After winning an award for best supporting actress in a musical, she went on tour with Monty Python’s Spamalot and back to the West End as Dolly in One Man,Two Guvnors.

The story goes that Calamity can outshoot any man in Deadwood but has fallen for Cavalry officer Danny Gilmartin (Alex Hammond – Seven Brides for Seven Brothers). Desperate to impress, she travels 100 miles on the Deadwood Stagecoach to catch the train to Chicago to try to recruit a star, Adelaid Adams, (Christina Tedders) to appear at the Deadwood Saloon and Bar.

But things don’t go smoothly – hence the name Calamity – as everyone, including Danny, favours the new girl Katie Brown (Phoebe Street – Les Misérables) who Calamity thought was Adelaid Adams.

Chaos threatens to ensue when the deception is discovered but the talented imposter soon wins the hearts of both Wild Bill Hickok (Tom Lister – TV’s Emmerdale) and Danny Gilmartin – making Calamity very jealous indeed.

The production, directed by Nikolai Foster, moves along at a cracking pace, with classic songs by Sammy Fain, such as The Black Hills of Dakota, The Deadwood Stage, Windy City and the Oscar-winning Secret Love and Jodie Prenger wowed the audience with her singing.

I can certainly recommend the sheer entertainment value of this production with a very talented cast and it’s also suitable for all the family.

You can see this production of Calamity Jane on tour in the UK on the following dates:

Brighton Theatre Royal 28th April-2nd May
Liverpool Empire 5th-9th May
Aberdeen His Majesty’s 9th-13th June
Glasgow King’s 16th-20th June
Leeds Grand 23rd-27th June
Leicester Curve 30th June-4th July
Hull New Theatre 7th-11th July
Carlisle Sands 21st-26th July
Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall 28th July-1st August

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