Theatre Review: Calamity Jane

Tegan Gully and Andrew Crispe in Calamity Jane

The quest of a hard-talkin’, rootin’-tootin’ gal to prove herself, but a case of mistaken identity causes a whole mess of trouble for her!


Tegan Gully and Andrew Crispe in Calamity Jane

Tegan Gully and Andrew Crispe in Calamity Jane

Presented by Marie Clark Musical Theatre Company
Reviewed 24 May 2014

Calamity is back in town so make sure you have a bottle of ‘sarsaparilly’ at hand. The Marie Clark Musical Theatre Company presents Calamity Jane this month, one of the most beloved musicals of all time, under the direction of Ben and Kristin Stefanoff,.

Adapted from the stage play by Charles K Freeman, and made famous by the movie starring Doris Day, Calamity Jane is a musical adventure that is highly regarded among the musical theatre circle. It features classic songs, such as Windy City, by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster, and although it has grown mighty cheesy over the years, theatre-goers continue to dance and sing along.

Calamity Jane follows the hard-talkin’, rootin’-tootin’ Calamity (Tegan Gully) and her quest to prove herself to those who see her as a bit of an exaggerator, especially Wild Bill Hancock (Andrew Crispe). She does so by vowing to bring the glamorous singer, Adelaide Adams (Sophia Dimopoulos), to the small town of Deadwood. A case of mistaken identity leads to Calamity returning with Adelaide’s servant, Katie Brown (Leah Potter) and causing a whole mess of trouble.

This production boasts some of Adelaide’s finest talent. Crispe is a spectacular leading man, and a face that many will recognise. He has a powerful voice and presence to match, but can also be romantic when need be, a perfect match for the role of Wild Bill. At the same time, Gully is a tremendous Calamity Jane. She is full of spirit and energy as well as being confident, funny and able to control her singing voice incredibly well. Other crowd favourites include Doug Phillips as the flamboyant Francis Fryer and Damian Baker (only 15 yet able to keep up with the grown-ups). There’s hardly a member of the cast that doesn’t pull their weight, and no member of the ensemble fails to deliver.

One of my favourite parts of the musical is when Leah Potter (as Katie) appears on the Deadwood stage while pretending to be Adelaide Adams. She becomes so nervous that she is unable to sing, stumbling around with her voice breaking and squeaking hilariously. It must have been quite a challenge for someone so well trained and with such a good voice to sing so badly on purpose, but she pulls it off perfectly!

The amount of detail that went into this production is astounding. Little things, such as Calamity firing her gun into the ceiling and sending a shower of plaster down onto the stage, make the performance all the more engaging and funny. The thick accents and southern slang are also great fun. Considering the difficulty of maintaining an accent like that, even while singing, it’s amazing that there were very few messed-up lines.

Although hampered by a good few sound problems, and the tremendous amount of corniness inherent in the script, Calamity Jane is a feel-good, bop-along musical full of interesting characters and unique personalities.

Reviewed by James Rudd

Venue: Arts Theatre, 53 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 23 – 31 May
Duration: 2 hours with 20 Minute Interval
Tickets: $26.00 – $31.00
Bookings: Book online through the Marie Clark Musical Theatre Company website


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