Calamity Jane, Upstairs at the Gatehouse

There’s a line in the show’s most famous number, Secret Love, about shouting from the highest hills. Maybe that should be Highgate’s hills, as director Thom Southerland’s latest ambitious musical production is one that deserves to be lauded at full volume.

As rambunctious tomboy ‘Calam’, Katherine Eames goes off like a firecracker, even when her gun frequently fails to do the same. The spitting image of Doris Day in her frontierswoman’s outfit, she is one of several cast members whose American accent wavers on occasion, but whose enthusiasm compensates in droves.

As Katie Brown, the maid whom Jane brings to Deadwood in the mistaken belief she is a star actress, Bonnie Hurst delivers much the best performance of the evening, providing a wholesome, warm counterpoint to Jane’s spikiness. Her transformation from reluctant singer to undoubted star during the performance of Keep it Under Your Heart is just one of several musical highlights.

Of the rest of the cast, David Anthony’s Wild Bill Hickock towers over the others just as he should. But this is not to deny the strength of the ensemble, of whom the males in particular exhibit some strong dance abilities during Phyllida Crowley Smith’s exuberant choreography.

Reviewed for The Stage

June 8-July 3
Authors: Charles K Freeman (book, based on the screenplay by James O’Hanlon), Sammy Fain (music), Paul Francis Webster (lyrics)
Director: Thom Southerland
Producer: Nick Robinson for Stage Taylor Ltd
Cast includes: Katherine Eames, David Anthony, Bonnie Hurst, Anthony Wise, Ted McMillan, Jonathan Vickers
Running time: 2hrs