What more to say about Calamity Jane, the darn-tootin’ musical hit that rode into Belvoir St Theatre last week after its much-loved (and previously reviewed) Hayes Theatre run last year?
The same all-singing, all-dancing, all-winking production that restores a beloved film into multi-dimensional technicolour. Corralled quite brilliantly by Richard Carroll, with terrific choreography by Cameron Mitchell.
The same simple set by designer Lauren Peters, with a small reno here and there, snugly folded into Belvoir’s corner space after a multi-town tour, plus those perfect period costumes.
The same tunes (you know more than you think), barely enough for a two-and-a-half-hour musical but each one a gem. Wonderfully arranged by musical director Nigel Ubrihien, most accompanied by a single upright piano but some by instrument-wielding cast. From frenetic group numbers like Just Blew In From The Windy City, the newly twisted duet A Woman’s Touch to the haunting acapella of The Black Hills Of Dakota.
And that cast, all the same thankfully and even more drilled after their out-of-town runs. Laura Bunting, Anthony Gooley, Sheridan Harbridge, Rob Johnson, Matthew Pearce and Tony Taylor. Each bring individual moments of small genius, with even greater clarity now they’re miked up for the bigger stage.
And still that big butch star, the pansexual Jane for 2018. With Carroll’s wise direction, Virginia Gay has almost entirely reinvented Calamity to wring more fun and much more pathos from the role. She is utterly spellbinding and deserves every award she’s picked up along the way.
But that’s all been said by us before. So this is merely a reminder to circle the wagons and go. It’s joyous, joyous stuff.
Calamity Jane plays Belvoir St Theatre until September 30. It plays a final season in Melbourne at the Arts Centre on December 12-13. (Photo by John Mcrae)
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