Review: Calamity Jane at Buxton Opera House

Calamity Jane at Buxton Opera House from May 26 to 30, 2015.
Calamity Jane at Buxton Opera House from May 26 to 30, 2015.

A musical with no orchestra? But who needs one when the cast is multi-skilled?

They sing, act (with accents straight out of old cowboy movies), dance, and play everything from a banjo to a trumpet. Even the leading lady plays the spoons.

Previous productions of Calamity Jane I’ve seen had a cast of dozens and a generous handful of musicians.

This Calamity, at Buxton Opera House until Saturday, May 30, relies on 15 talented performers to fill the stage, make the music, and even rearrange the scenery.

Just four dancers perform a lively hoe-down, with so much energy that somehow they make it work.

Jodie Prenger’s Calamity has a big voice, a big personality and a touch of vulnerability: perfect for her showstopper number Secret Love. She gets sterling support from everyone, especially Tom Lister’s honey-voiced Bill Hickok, and Sophia Ragavelas as a bubbly Katie Brown.

The staging is spot on: a rough and ready saloon theatre straight out of an old Hollywood western, with barrels for tables and an old joanna in the corner. They conjured other locations out of the props: even the Deadwood Stage.

It just goes to show what you can do with imagination and plain old-fashioned talent.