REVIEW: Calamity Jane, Sunderland Empire, Until March 7

Calamity Jane stars Blackpool's Jodie Prenger at Manchester's Palace Theatre until Saturday

Calamity Jane stars Blackpool's Jodie Prenger at Manchester's Palace Theatre until Saturday

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TAKING a classic film and re-inventing it in a new touring stage show could prove a real Calamity.

As a youngster, I apparently drove my family round the bend watching Calamity Jane every single day.

There was something about that loud-mouthed whip-crackin’ tom boy that I just couldn’t get enough of.

So when the UK tour was announced, I was dying to see one of my favourite ever flicks transformed for the stage.

Technical issues saw the show start 20 minutes late on press night, and the crowd was itching to get going.

Everyone quickly got in the mood when the troupe of actor-musicians started singing The Deadwood Stage.

LOVE STORY ... Jodie Prenger as Calamity Jane and Tom Lister as Wild Bill Hickok.

LOVE STORY ... Jodie Prenger as Calamity Jane and Tom Lister as Wild Bill Hickok.

All music throughout the show was played live on stage, with even the leads chipping in on percussion, guitar, and piano – it was very impressive.

The songs, like Careless With The Truth and Windy City, were very familiar with the audience and went down a storm.

Unfortunately, the parts in between musical numbers felt a little slow.

The title role was made famous in the 1953 film by Doris Day, who has some mighty big boots to fill.

All music throughout the show was played live on stage, with even the leads chipping in on percussion, guitar, and piano – it was very impressive.

If anyone can do it, it’s Jodie Prenger. The bubbly actress looks great in Calamity’s signature fringed costume, and is really likeable in her portrayal of real-life frontierswoman Martha Jane Canary.

She’s got great chemistry alongside Tom Lister as Wild Bill Hickok, and the leads play off against each other fantastically.

The pair really shine, but the staging around them lets them down a little bit.

The scenery is very static and relies heavily on the imagination. It barely changes despite Calamity travelling to a different state and sprucing up her cabin with actress Katie Brown (Phoebe Street).

I’ve seen impressive scenery that can completely transform the stage in the blink of an eye, and this show could have used some.

A stand out moment in the show came with Prenger and Lister’s rendition of I Can Do Without You. The feisty number was performed with real gusto and had everyone chuckling.

An unplanned comedy moment came at the end of act one when actors struck their final poses, expecting the curtain to quickly fall in front of them, but a technical hiccup saw them play musical statues as the crowd whooped and cheered at the unfortunate gaffe.

Things were a little slow in the first act, but the pace really picked up in the second, ensuring everyone had a rootin’ tootin’ good time.

Famous track The Black Hills of Dakota really stood out, and you could hear the crowd singing along.

A Woman’s Touch, Higher Than a Hawk and Secret Love were also performed brilliantly.

The show ended in a big dance number that got everyone clapping along.

For me, it didn’t quite live up to the film, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, and the crowd in the stalls certainly seemed to as they rose to their feet in a standing ovation.

Calamity Jane runs at the Sunderland Empire until Saturday, March 7. Click here to book tickets.

Twitter: @ShieldsGazVicki