R. Fiore Archive



Centre Stage London presents

Calamity Jane



Adapted by Ronald Hanmer and Phil Park
From the stage play by Charles K Freeman

After the Warner Bros film written by James O’Hanlon


Directed by Peter John Mills

Musical Director: Robert Wicks


Cast includes:

David Walker Smith; Eileen Donnelly; Avril Sand, Tufan Gavaz


Bridewell Theatre


25 – 29 November, 2008






ay Couzen

A review by Rosie Fiore for EXTRA! EXTRA!


An amateur production of a musical. Well, it’d make most critics’ hearts sink, or this one anyway. My experience of amateur theatre has heretofore been restricted to groups in the suburbs who perform Gilbert and Sullivan grimly for decades, with scant regard for appropriate casting, talent or tuning. Generally, you are treated to the sight of a group of ladies of a certain age (and size), simpering and pretending to be teenagers. I am forever scarred by the vision of twelve, bus-pass carrying Size Twenty “bridesmaids” bouncing bountifully through the hornpipe in Ruddigore.

But this production, and I suspect, all the work of Centre Stage, is another thing altogether. The average age of the performers was, I estimate, between 25 and 30. Many of them would not have looked out of place on a professional stage. And I’ve seldom seen 30-odd people have such stomping, energetic, infectious fun. It was impossible to leave the Bridewell Theatre without a smile on your face.

Calamity Jane, like many musicals, doesn’t have the most watertight, developed (or indeed feminist) of plots. It’s based on the Doris Day film, and tells the story of tough-talking, buckskin-wearing Calamity, who guards the stagecoach for a small South Dakota town called Deadwood. The owner of the local saloon is desperate to get a glamorous lady performer into his humble venue, and Calamity vows to bring the famous Adelaide Adams from Chicago. But Adelaide, who isn’t very nice anyway, is off to Europe, and through a series of coincidences, Calamity ends up bringing the sweet-faced Katie Brown, Adelaide’s dresser. Katie causes quite a stir, and soon Danny Gilmartin, for whom Calamity yearns, and bad boy Wild Bill Hickock are vying for her attention.

Of course there’s all the obligatory confusion, mistaken identities and a transformation for our Calamity, before true love conquers all.

There really was almost nothing to criticise in this fun and frothy pre-Christmas delight. The cast all gave 100 per cent, there was a first-rate live band and the set, costumes, lighting and choreography all combined to give us a coherent and professional evening’s entertainment. The theatre was packed, with a vocal and very partisan crowd supporting the cast all the way. One or two of the lead performers weren’t vocally as strong as they might have been, and even though they were mic’d, struggled to balance with the band. But this was a minor quibble. Special mention must be made of Eileen Donnelly’s outstanding turn as Calamity Jane. Her bright face, lovely voice and spot-on characterisation totally belied her amateur status.

If you’re planning a night out and want to enjoy some toe-tapping songs, silly jokes and a bit of romance, head for the Bridewell Theatre. I guarantee you’ll come out grinning




Tuesday - Saturday, 25 Nov - 29 Nov 2008
Performances at 19:30

Saturday 29 Nov 2008
Matinee 2.30

Tickets £15.00
Concessions £12.50

Book online or call 07722 323221

Bridewell Theatre
Bride Lane Fleet Street
London EC4Y 8EQ

T 020 7353 3331

E info@stbridefoundation.org








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