THEATRE REVIEW - Calamity Jane

Calamity Jane at the Manchester Palace Theatre
Calamity Jane at the Manchester Palace Theatre

SHE dresses in buckskin and boy is that rootin’ tootin‘ cowgirl Calmity Jane a Tom boy. To be truthful “butch” would be the right word. But under the masculine exterior, she’s just looking for love.

Calamity Jane at Manchester Palace until Saturday is a great yester-year musical with loads of laughs, some very significant messages and a glorious feel-good factor.

Tuesday night’s full house proved that these dusted down old musicals still have an important place in theatre schedules. And from the very first, the audiences sang along with those hits which had remained memorable despite the passing of the decades.

It’s the story of the girl who is a stranger to frocks and other feminine necessities. A gal who is able to hold her own and outshoot most of the men in the little town of Deadwood. Her powers of verbal exaggeration know no bounds.

The ever-popular Jodie Prenger plays Calamity, so named because there’s chaos wherever she goes. The Blackpool-born star makes the part her own, and surely Doris Day, her film counterpart, would be mighty proud at her capturing the part with panache and rough style. Jody’s a true jewel in the crown of this marvellous musical.

Her rendition of “Once I Had a Secret Love” was a damp-eyed show stopper. And half-forgotten numbers like “The Deadwood Stage” were great nostalgic food.

Amazing to think that Calamity Jane is a true story. The girl actually married Wild Bill Hicock, was widowed, re-married and died in 1903.

As Wild Bill, Tom Lister (formerly EastEnders) shone, as did the whole cast, each playing an instrument.

This was a sassy, wild night out. An old musical with an old story and an old look.