I had no need to be worried with the production that blew into the windy city of Milton Keynes this week.My friend Cathy (who doesn’t know the musical at all and came with to experience it with me) and I had front row seats. I love the front row as you can really see the expressions on the actor’s faces.
This version of Calamity had many changes from the film including many songs I was unfamiliar with. But they were great songs and executed really well.Two things separated this show from others I have seen. Firstly there was one scene for the entire show. The set never changed. This was challenging, but I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘lets make a stagecoach out of some chairs and jog on it as if we are being pulled by horses’. It was the sort of stuff you did in your living room as a child. I loved it as it made it accessible for anyone to go away and give it a go. Who needs expensive props?
The other unusual difference was most of the actors and dancers in the show were also the orchestra. I have never been to a show where all the instruments are played by those acting in it. I personally didn’t like this. I feel it is a way of the show saving money of a traditional orchestra. However it did work in this particular production (as it felt intimate and fitted with the set idea) and I have nothing but a huge admiration for the cast. To act and dance and remember your lines is challenging enough, but to play instruments (and I am talking pianos, double bass, violins etc) just goes to show how very very talented the cast are.I also have to mention a couple of names in the show. Tom Lister played Wild Bill Hickok. I do not watch soaps so had no idea he was in Emmerdale. But he could sing and dance and his acting skills were fantastic. I really enjoyed his performance, and so did my friend Cathy, especially when he blew her a kiss. She turned into a giggly schoolgirl.
Jodie Prenger played Calamity Jane. She did the part justice and when it came to ‘Secret Love’ (my favourite song from the show, she took my breath away.I have to mention Paul Kissaun who played Rattlesnake. I had to look up his name as I could have sworn it was Alan Davies with a wig on! (funnily enough the last thing I saw in Milton Keynes Theatre was Alan Davies stand up comedy show).
All I can say about Calamity Jane is there is no Calamities in it. It is a well-executed production with an excellent cast.
And it is funny. Go and enjoy it while you can!