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Calamity Jane With Jodie Prenger - UK Tour Review

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Event: -
Show tours to Birmingham, Manchester, London and Liverpool
Calamity Jane's stomping boots are big ones to fill especially when Doris Day created such an iconic movie version.

Well, there's a new UK touring production of Calamity Jane in town though with a striking and loveable leading lady.

Calamity Jane1
Jodie Prenger is a lovable Calamity Jane

Jodie Prenger, who made her name on BBC1's I'd Do Anything and went on to win the role of Nancy in Cameron Mackintosh's stage version of Oliver!, has plenty of southern drawl and humour in the show that visits Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre for five days from February 17. It then continues to cities including Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Liverpool and Brighton.

I caught the new production early on in the tour at Malvern Theatres.

It helps that Prenger, like Doris Day, is extremely likeable. In fact, she was voted Favourite Reality TV Star of 2008 by readers of TV Times. What's more, she has a marvellous voice, so you are always willing her on through all Calamity's well-meaning but disasterous escapades in the wild west frontier town of Deadwood.

The story follows tomboy Calamity Jane as she heads off to Chicago to bring back a famous showgirl to perform in Deadwood but ends up bringing the wrong person back.

Great costumes and dances make Calamity Jane a fun, toe-tapping show

Through the journey, there's identity mix-ups, shoot-outs and love triangles galore plus fiery arguments between Calamity and the hunky thorn in her side, Wild Bill Hickok, which leads to the wonderful song I Can Do Without You.

Playing Wild Bill is Tom Lister, the one-time baddie in Emmerdale, who is a suitably towering, sultry lead and has a fantastic chemistry with Prenger. He also impresses playing the guitar while singing a dreamy version of My Heart Is Higher Than a Hawk.

Adding another bonus to this production is the way all the actors are also musicians, carrying their instruments and playing music live on stage while dancing and singing. It gives a wild west yee haa hoe-down feel to it all.

The cast of a Calamity Jane play instruments as well as sing on stage

The only drawback is that the tour features such an intricate stage that it doesn't change like many a lavish musical these days, but efforts are made to adapt it to different scenarios.

But with fine performances and songs like Secret Love, Just Blew In From The Windy City and the Black Hills of Dakota sung in such a rousing way, you'll be whip crack-away with happiness.

Rating: 8/10

Calamity Jane UK Tour

Tickets cost 20.40 - 47.40.
For further information on tickets visit the Calamity Jane website or the ATG ticket website.

UK Tour Dates:
Birmingham Alexandra Theatre - 17th-21st February

Eastbourne Congress - 23rd-28th February

Stoke Regent Theatre - 10th-14th March

Wimbledon Theatre - 17th-21st March

Manchester Palace - 24th-28th March

Wycombe Swan Theatre - 14th-18th April

Brighton Theatre Royal - 28th April-2nd May

Liverpool Empire - 5th - 9th May

Aberdeen His Majesty's Theatre - 9th-13th June

Glasgow King's Theatre - 16th-20th June

Leeds Grand Theatre - 23rd-27th June

Leicester Curve Theatre - 30th June-4th July

Hull New Theatre - 7th-11th July

Carlisle Sands - 21st-26th July

Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall - 28th July-1st August

Richmond Theatre - 4th August - 8th August

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Why? Whip-cracking musical with fabulous songs
When: Touring the UK until August 8 2015
Phone: Various for individual theatres
Where: UK Tour - Birmingham, Manchester, London, Glasgow and more
Cost: From 22
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