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Calamity Jane

Photo by John McRae

One Eyed Man Productions in association with Neglected Musicals and Hayes Theatre Co 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. Lyrics, by Paul Francis Webster. Music by Sammy Fain, at the Belvoir Theatre Upstairs, Surry Hills. 23 August – 30 September.

This is the same production of CALAMITY JANE, Directed by Richard Carroll, Choreographed by Cameron Mitchell, under the Musical direction of Nigel Ubrihien that we saw at the Hayes Theatre in 2017.

On tour and now in residence at the Belvoir Upstairs Theatre, Virginia Gay as Calamity, leads Laura Bunting, Anthony Gooley, Sheridan Harbridge, Rob Johnston, Matthew Pearse and Tony Taylor through an hilarious contemporary ‘mash-up’ of the 1953 Warner Brothers Musical film that made a Box Office star of Doris Day and Howard Keel.

The exchange of spaces from one end of town to the other has not inhibited the energy or the hi-jinx of this inventive group of truly ‘naughty’ actors who with great glee but with joyful respect entertain us with a night in the theatre that will relieve you, at least for a couple of hours, of all of the tensions of negotiating your way through the ‘terrors’ of modern living – recovery from last week’s “bloody” politics and the T(traumatic) S(Stress) D(Disorder) apprehension of our allies, the United States (President Trump) and the United Kingdom (Brexit).

CALAMITY JANE is worth every (therapeutic) cent you spend, I assure you. One elatedly staggers out into the foyer, the street, as if one has been in the washing machine antics – churning and turning – of the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Charlie Chaplin and the Keystone Cops, Lucille Ball, all, combined, with the added bravura of a group of Australian artists that know full well the comedy lens that we ‘down under’ often indulge in – the ‘vulgarisms of the Music Hall/vaudeville of the old Tivoli Circuit’ (Moe Rene etc) that was translated into our living rooms on television in a so-called Golden Age, of things such as THE MAVIS BRAMSTON SHOW or HEY, HEY ITS SATURDAY – RED FACES!!!! or, more appallingly, THE GRAHAM KENNEDY SHOW!!!!!!!!

The Design of the Golden Garter Saloon in Deadwood City is by Lauren Peters who has placed tables and chairs for some of the audience onto the stage itself so that they are in the middle of the mayhem of the action and sometimes cast in roles to facilitate that action – much to the hilarious enjoyment, of those of us sat, relatively ‘safely’ (or, so we think!), in the auditorium. Trent Suidgeest has glamorised the Lighting and the Sound Designer and Operator, Camden Young, ensures that we hear every word spoken and sung, felicitously.

There is much tongue-in-cheek (polite) innuendo for the adults and enough innocent joy for children of any age to leave this theatre with the memory of an experience they will never forget and want to find again in their futures. Undoubtedly you will be able to hum along/sing along with your streaming service in your ears, songs such as Windy City, The Black Hills of Dakota, My Secret Love.

This is a RAVE and an encouragement for all of you to get yourself to Belvoir as quickly as you can. Sitting in this theatre watching this production, for those of us with a history of the joys that this space has sometimes given us – e.g. the Outrageously funny, cheeky, spaghetti Shakespeare, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, of a distant past, popped into my mind. Remember?!!!!!

Read my earlier blog on this show from 2107 – it all still holds. Except, Downstairs in the Foyer afterwards the actors are still entertaining you with a robustness that may belie their actual ‘condition’ that ought, by any other human standing, be exhausted. Ah, the generosity of Actors.

Go, go, go.