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This Is Blackpool: Calamity Jane - 7th June 2003
Calamity Jane at the Opera House, Blackpool

Toyah led a strong cast through the opening night of Calamity Jane and took everyone's breath away with an energetic display, leaping from the rafters to a saloon bar. 

This well-paced production also featured Michael Cormick as Wild Bill Hickock (or a boy named Sioux!) and the impressive Emma Dodd as Adelaid Adams. 

Feisty and suitably boyish, Toyah's exuberance would have shamed performers half her age. Cracking show and thoroughly enjoyable. 

By Greg Morgan 

BBCi - Bristol: Facing a calamity in the Wild West - 29th May 2003
Calamity Jane at The Hippodrome, Bristol

Calamity Jane is one of my all time favourite musicals. 

The 1953 film, starring Doris Day and Howard Keel is – for me – virtually faultless, with its great musical numbers and high calibre of acting and singing. 

So, you can imagine that I arrived at the Hippodrome for a version of the story starring former 80s pop chick, and recent celebrity jungle escapee Toyah Willcox, with some amount of trepidation. 

Thankfully, for the main part, I was successfully converted and spent a highly enjoyable evening, as did the rest of a very appreciative audience. 

For those of you who do not know the story, Calamity Jane is actually based on the life of real frontierswoman, Martha Jane Cannary who was born in Missouri in 1852.

She lived quite a strange and independent life in the wild west – which included working on the railroad, as a professional gambler, gold prospector and a stagecoach driver. 

And, as in the musical, she did actually marry a man called Wild Bill Hickok, himself a highly colourful character who spent parts of his life as a lawman and others as an outlaw. 

Gun-toting tomboy 

But there, I’m afraid, fact and fantasy diverge.

In our story Calamity is a gun-toting tomboy, determined to live as a man in a hard man’s world, while still retaining a strange naiveté and faith in love. 

Calamity, whose exaggeration of the truth is known by the whole community of frontiers town Deadwood, spends a great deal of her time sparring with the handsome Wild Bill – or mooning over the lieutenant at the local fort. 

But he of course just sees her as one of the lads and when Calamity is sent off to bring a famous actress to the town, to perform at the local saloon, and instead brings back the actress’s maid Katie, you have the beginnings of trouble a’ brewing. 

And so to the Hippodrome production where from the very first notes of the overture the audience was transported into the Wild West. 

The basic set, with its very simple, but highly effective backdrop of Dakota’s Black Hills and an ever-changing skyline, designed by Simon Higlett, gave us a taste of the basic conditions frontiers folk must have lived in. 

The ensemble cast was excellent, with special mention for Phil Ormerod as actor Francis Fryer, forced to perform on stage as a woman when he first arrives in Deadwood after a case of mistaken identity, and young Abigail Aston, who brought to life saloon owner’s daughter Susan, in what was her professional debut. 


The main characters were also well played, Australian Michael Cormick, gave exactly the right amount of gravitas to the part of Wild Bill, with a truly lovely voice, which had the power and range to do justice to what are some excellent songs. 

But what of Calamity? 

Well Toyah is certainly a seasoned professional and is amazingly fit for, dare I say it,  someone of her age. 

She put an amazing amount of energy into Calamity and was at her best when her character was being larger than life, or battling with Wild Bill. 

Unfortunately she wasn’t able to bring the naiveté and innocence to the part that is really needed if our sympathies are to lie with Calamity. 

Nor was her voice powerful enough to do justice to some of the songs – in particular the final number Secret Love. 

She and the rest of the cast were also not helped by the sound, with mics not always being switched quite quickly enough to catch the performer’s first words. 

But perhaps this is nit picking. Director Ed Curtis did a fine job of bringing this touring production to the stage and at the end of the day it was a highly entertaining evening which sent the audience home with a smile on their faces, whistling the catchy tunes. 

So, all together – whipcrack away, whipcrack away, whipcrack away!

By Caron Parsons

Southampton Daily Echo: Calamity Jane - 10th April 2003
Calamity Jane at the Mayflower, Southampton

Who would have thought, back in the early 1980s when the shock-haired chanteuse made a nation quake in its boots with her threats to "turn this world upside-down", that Toyah Willcox would one day be playing the title role in Calamity Jane?

Punk princess to wholesome family entertainer might have seemed unthinkable then, but it's a perfectly acceptable career trajectory these days, and Toyah has navigated it with success.

Never originally intended for the stage, Fain and Webster's musical, made as a film starring Doris Day in 1953, had the first night audience at The Mayflower humming along to such memorable numbers as The Deadwood Stage and Black Hills of Dakota.

Toyah gives an energetic performance as the gun-toting cowgirl discovering her inner femininity, although her voice is slightly too abrasive for the swooning likes of Secret Love (a number one British hit for Day).

Top tunes notwithstanding, this stage version occasionally came across as static and unimaginative. The set, featuring too much fence-type panelling, was also uninspired.

Gripes aside, it still made for a fairly entertaining night out. One word of warning, though: the gunshots in this show will have you leaping out of your skin.

Andrew White

Wirral Post: Action-packed Calamity is breathtaking - 4th April 2003
Calamity Jane at the The Empire, Liverpool

Award-winning actress and singer Toyah Willcox whip-cracked her way onto the Liverpool Empire stage last week for a lively four-night run of 'Calamity Jane'.

Supported by a strong cast, including Alasdair Harvey as Jane's future husband Wild Bill Hickok, Toyah took the lead as the hard-hitting and tough-talking Indian scout who puts her reputation on the line when she promises to bring a famous singing star all the way from Chicago to Dakota's Golden Garter Saloon. 

After a small matter of mistaken identity, the dainty chanteuse and our heroine become the best of friends - until Calamity realises she may have a rival for the affections of two of the town's most eligible cowboys, the dashing Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin and fast drawing Wild Bill Hickock.

Directed by Ed Curtis and described as an 'action packed, rip-roaring roller coaster' the show featured a nice mixture of comedy and drama. It also featured the classics 'The Deadwood Stage', 'The Black Hills of Dakota' and the Oscar-winning hit 'Secret Love'. 

Full marks to the set designers. The scenery was basic, but very effective - the small-scale replicas of the Golden Garter Saloon and other buildings in the wild west, the backdrop of mountains, blue skies and fantastic sunsets were enough to convince me and the rest of the packed first-night audience that we had left Merseyside and were in the town of Deadwood, Dakota - a typical wild west town where men are cowboys and women are clean-living, wholesome gals. Sammy Fain's explosive music and high-kicking dancing from the ensemble sealed the deal 

Toyah is an energetic performer with more than 26 years in the business behind her. 

And it was clear that she really enjoyed her time on stage... climbing all over much of it, whether it be a stage coach or the walls of Henry Miller's saloon she seemed to make the character of Calamity her own - complete with swaggering walk. The only problem, I found with daredevil Toyah's performance was that the boundless energy and enthusiasm was breathtaking... but it sometimes affected the clarity of the songs. That said, she made the performance her own and was a joy to watch.

Daily Post/IC Liverpool: Calamity Jane - 3rd April 2003
Calamity Jane at the The Empire, Liverpool

There are stage musicals that get turned into films and film musicals that get turned into stage shows. Calamity Jane is a rare example of the latter.

The difficulties of confining a wide open film onto a single stage are often apparent in this adaptation by Charles K Freeman.

There is a stage-coach with no horses, a town suggested by a dolls' house set, scenes that have to be cut (like Calamity's battle with the Indians) and song changes.

Where the film has Calamity singing The Deadwood Stage atop a stage-coach, this theatrical version has a less entertaining chorus to tackle the song.

Of course, it is best not to remember the film as in many ways this is a very different entertainment.

Toyah Willcox as Calamity is a rougher, tougher version of Doris Day with a coarser voice and a peculiar swagger to her walk. She also - literally - climbs all over the scenery, singing from a cross beam at one moment, upside down at another and gets hauled onto bar tops and other surfaces.

It is such an all-action performance that she often seems breathless, tackling the score by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster at breakneck speed. What she gains in sheer vivacity she loses in clarity and phrasing.

Happily, there is a Wild Bill Hickock in Alasdair Harvey who knows how to tackle a song and give it some style, most notably in his Higher Than a Hawk.

Supporting acts are generally pushed into the shade with Ms Willcox's athletic and non-stop performance, but Kellie Ryan and Phil Ormerod as the visiting performers Katie Brown and Francis Fryer in the Wild West town of Deadwood give it a reasonable go.

Designer Simon Higlett has some bright ideas, including a Gone With the Wind sky and the chorus often matches Willcox for sheer energy.

It's good fun alright, but there are times when the production needs to catch its breath and concentrate on the songs, particularly Webster's witty lyrics.

By Philip Key

BBCi - Nottingham: Calamity Jane - 28th March 2003
Calamity Jane at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Punk popstar, Toyah Willcox, makes a darn good "Calam", bearing in mind the tough act she had to follow.

It was always going to be a tough act to follow, when MGM cast Doris Day as Calamity Jane they created a little bit of motion picture magic. Fast forward 50 years and the Theatre Royal is the latest place to have the Deadwood Stage roll into town. I can’t have been the only person who was surprised by the casting of Toyah Willcox as Calamity Jane. 

It was hard to imagine how the woman who was so memorable on Top of the Pops in the 1980s could step into Doris’ buckskin suit.

It works because she doesn’t try to mimic Doris, Toyah makes the part her own. She’s wise crackin’ , she’s rumbustious, for one who nudges five foot she gives a ten foot performance. She really does command the stage when she’s on it, but not to the detriment of the other young cast members. 

Kellie Ryan delighted an appreciative audience with her gutsy performance as Katie Brown. She is a strong singer with great comic timing as the hapless ingenue and she hits all her big songs with gusto. 

Alasdair Harvey as Wild Bill Hickok, Tony Stansfield as the dispairing Henry "Millie" Miller and Phil Ormerod as Francis Fryer all help the show bowl along smoother than a ride on the Deadwood stage. 

If the cast doesn’t impress, then the sets will - the creative use of space, makes for a very credible Wild West town and an impressive backdrop for one of the major songs of the show, the Black Hills of Dakota. 

All the big numbers are there, The Deadwood Stage, Windy City, The Black Hills of Dakota and of course, the UK number one and Oscar winning song, Secret Love. 

If there is a weakness in Toyah’s performance this is it – she doesn’t have the vocal range of Doris Day. It was a passionate delivery if not a powerful one. 

Likewise, there are a few other moments where the cast struggle to be heard above the band, but they can be forgiven . If you fancy a few hours away from the ongoing problems in the world , I recommend hitchin’ a ride with Calamity Jane. 

By Carol Hinds

EDP24: Calamity Jane -20th March 2003
Calamity Jane at the Theatre Royal, Norwich

Sometimes it is good to get away from it all – in this instance, far away and way back in time.

Back not to the Wild West, but to the Wild West that never really was, though it ought to have been to satisfy imagination about an era when feelings ran high and a good song could settle everything before matters got too serious. 

So in bounces Calamity in the shape of Toyah Willcox.

Just about 5ft of electrifying energy, whip-cracking, pistol-packing and gripping the Theatre Royal audience.

She even takes us back to those days when just the sight of a girl in trousers thrilled every man in the audience. Her partner Alastair Harvey, a big man, makes her seem even smaller, with a large voice to match.

In support, a cast that takes the secondary roles joins up again in the ensemble, high-kicking, smartly manoeuvring and catching every change of mood – often, literally, at the drop of a hat. 

The jokes are there, but no one lingers on them. Because this is a show that has to go on and on, carrying us along before we think too much.

The production by Ed Curtis is better than slick – it is polished.

And watching the scenes transform before our eyes is a genuine part of the fun.

Smartening Calamity's cabin couldn't be done better.

And those Black Hills of Dakota are a delight for more than two hours, a rugged chain on the horizon and a back cloth that captures every tint of splendid sunsets.

The musical director is Robert Cousins, quick on the uptake at the start of the numbers and giving support that is vigorous and full of character without ever getting too loud.

Christopher Smith

BBCi - Norwich: Calamity Jane - 18th March 2003
Calamity Jane at the Theatre Royal, Norwich

Definitely not a show for the faint-hearted. If you love plenty of rootin' tootin' undemanding thigh slapping entertainment then go and enjoy!

There's plenty of gunfire and whips cracking away in this tale of the (very) Wild West and Miss Calamity Jane. If you're of the nervous disposition then stay away! 

Calamity Jane started out as a screen musical with Doris Day first bringing us those familiar songs like The Deadwood Stage and Secret Love.

This is a show where you go in humming the tunes. And there's a big, brassy band in the pit under the tight direction of Robert Cousins which gives that smashing Broadway style sound and a great overture which really gets you in the mood.

Toyah Willcox, last seen at the Theatre Royal in pantomime plays Calamity. A five foot bundle of energy who constantly leaps about the stage and up the scenery too, given half the chance!

She may bear a passing resemblance to Doris Day but she gives this a gutsy performance in which she stamps her own mark. Perhaps a little more light and shade is needed among this constant yee-ahh-ing, particularly when she decides her secret love is no secret any more and she falls for Wild Bill Hickok. 

But it's a great performance for all that, particularly when she clambers on the top of the stage-coach and fights off hordes of Indians. This is well handled with guns blazing and - thanks to a brilliant sound system - arrows swooshing over your head. You want to duck!

It's a strong cast. Kellie Ryan is good as Katie Brown, and both Alasdair Harvey as Wild Bill and Garry Kilby as Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin have superb voices and a long string of West End appearances to their name. Alasdair has also been seen in Casulaty and Holby City as a doctor. 

The story is based on the true tale of Calamity Jane, a western woman well able to look after herself but who is quite capable of embellishing stories of her heroic exploits. 

This lands her in trouble when she boasts she can get a top star from Chicago to come and perform at the Deadwood saloon. Instead of the star she brings back her maid instead who promptly falls for Lieutenant Gilmartin - and Calamity had a soft spot for him too, oh well.

It all ends happily and she declares her Secret Love for Wild Bill Hickock. Its not deep emotional stuff but it provides a framework for this easy-going show and its well known tunes.

There's an atmospheric set designed by Simon Higlett which has a backdrop which incorporates both those Black Hills of Dakota and a beautiful sky which can change from sunrise to sunset and everything in between. 

A musical like this is essentially escapist stuff and what better way to forget what's going on in the big, wide world for two and a half hours by heading into the whimsical Wild West? 

With its high standards in every department (there's a possibility it might be transferring to the West End) it's a good night out.

This Is Eastbourne: Calamity Jane - 7th march 2003
Calamity Jane at the Congress Theatre, Eastbourne

Toyah Willcox burst on to the Congress Theatre's stage as the madcap tomboy, all guns firing, her whip cracking and as feisty as you could wish. 

Willcox, a noted actress and pop singer, was as clean cut as Doris Day, the star of the film, with long, blonde hair and a penchant for wearing men's clothes. 

But when she changed into a dress, wow, she became the prettiest little gal in town. 

The Sammy Fain/Paul Webster musical spawned a number of hits and all were well presented by Willcox and a fine ensemble cast that had the audience's feet tapping from curtain up. 

It's a trite tale of a Deadwood bar owner who is awaiting the arrival of Frances (with an "E") Fryer, a noted New York dancer and singer, but who mistakenly gets Francis (with an "I") Fryer, a song-and-dance man. 

Suffice to say Calamity is dispatched to Chicago to bring another singer, Adelaide Adams, back to the Western town, thus saving the landlord's reputation. 

But Calamity, as her name might suggest, brings back Katie Brown, Ms Adam's maid, who begins to interfere with Calamity's love rivals, Wild Bill Hickok (Alasdair Harvey) and Lt Danny Gilmartin (Gary Kilby). 

This production was a fast-paced, fun-packed show with some fancy shooting and excellent whip-cracking as the two lead ladies were left to sort things out. 

The numbers piled up and were belted out in a no-nonsense manner. This was a show where the songs took you over completely. 

The Deadwood Stage, Careless With The Truth, I Can Do Without You and Windy City were just a few of the songs everyone seemed to know. 

Willcox singing Secret Love was a real treat and The Black Hills Of Dakota brought the show to a climax. 

Kelly Ryan as Katie Brown proved she is a performer to watch out for. She has a fine musical entertainment voice and blessed us with a dance routine and dress that showed off her legs to the full. 

The sets were uncomplicated and easily summoned up the Wild West from all those images we have seen in the hundreds of Western films we watched as kids. 

But Willcox was the real star as she ran, jumped, danced and hung from the beams of the saloon, giving every man his comeuppance along the way. 

It was a feisty, fizzy show ideally suited to the Congress Theatre and obviously an event dearly loved by the sell-out crowd. 

The only tragedy was that it was booked only for a week. Somehow, I think it could have lasted far longer. 

Mike Howard

Romford Recorder: Calamity pain! Show is so tough on the cast - 27th February 2003
Calamity Jane at the Cliff's Pavilion, Southend-On-Sea

It would seem that whatever the versatile Toyah Willcox does is a success. I spoke to her a couple of weeks ago about her lead role in touring musical Calamity Jane, playing there this week. She said: "I thought I would be nursing my voice not the bruises."

She meant the action was fast and furious. After seeing the show on Friday, I can confirm that she was dead right.

For such a petite thing, Toyah's interpretation of the rootin-tootin-shootin legend of the Wild West, was very good. She had a hard act to follow after Doris Day made the role her own in the film of the 1960's – and to some extent the stage version suffered because people's memories are still fresh.

The amount of props on stage was impressive. The full working stagecoach, even minus the horses, looked good. The way Toyah shinned up and down it was even more impressive, particularly as she was singing at the same time.


The dance troupe were extremely good, and at times during the frenetic action they looked as if they were about to land in the third row.

Alasdair Harvey played Wild Bill Hickok, the man Calamity eventually married. His deep and rich voice was just right for the solos and you could hear his distinct tones even when the chorus were letting rip.

The other main character was Garry Kilby who played the first focus of Calamity's heart, Lt Danny Gilmartin. He was superb and if ever a role was created for anyone in mind, it was for this perishing great man with the deep voice, jutting chin and constant smile.

For those not sure of the plot, Calamity Jane and Bill Hickok did exist in the latter days of the Wild, Wild West.

Calamity became a Frontier legend as a hard-drinking, hard-riding scout for the army. At a time when most women were either in the saloons or keeping the homestead, Calamity was fighting off Indians and riding with the army, scouting ahead of the main column.

She lived in the Deadwood area, and it was there she met and eventually fell in love with Wild Bill Hickok. Though they soon parted after the birth of a daughter, Calamity is buried next to Wild Bill in Deadwood, South Dakota. She died in 1903 of pneumonia, brought on by her hard lifestyle and apparent love of the booze. Part of her legend was the ability to out drink and out cuss most men.

As for Wild Bill, he was a part-time lawman, villain, and showman and met his end during a poker game in 1876.

Doris Day strengthened the legend with the film of the same name as well as immortalising such songs as Deadwood Stage, Windy City, Black Hills of Dakota and the best of all, Secret Love.

All these songs and more are in the stage version, and with a huge company of 19 actors, singers and dancers, the show is spectacular by any standards.
One of the problems with such high-energy shows is the ability to keep up the pace and on this particular night, the action, though good, seemed to flag. Even the mighty Toyah had taken to nursing her voice as well as the bruises, and it became a little obvious.

It did not spoil the show, but some patrons expressed disappointment on the way out. I don't believe they meant it as a criticism of the players, but more as a recognition that their expectations, after all the hype and anticipation, were higher than reality. Perhaps a note for producers to take on board.

Having pre-viewed the show, I was a little late in doing a review, and my apologies if you would have liked to see it.

However, Calamity Jane is of a quality that guarantees it will be on the circuit again. Hopefully next time, the producers will take note of the reviews and put in place a schedule that will be less punishing on the company, giving them more time to rest.

As I said it was a good show, but by putting the company under such pressure, the value factor was less than an audience paying full price for a ticket deserve.

Edinburgh Evening News: Shooting star Toyah rides to the rescue - 30th January 2003
Calamity Jane at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

A vivid and vivacious performance from Toyah Willcox gets what could be a dead wood touring production of Calamity Jane cracking along and puts it firmly on the premier stage. 

It’s a real pleasure to see this charming performer lift her cast in such a generous and spirited manner. And even if this production has been on tour for a while, there’s no clue that it might be tired or lacking energy in any way. 

Indeed, any of Toyah’s fans who have not already booked their tickets should do so now. The real-life Calamity Jane was a feisty woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it. Toyah is not just right for the part, but as she leaps around singing her heart out, she makes it her own. 

Be warned, however, that this is not the original 1953 film of Calamity Jane transferred to the stage with Toyah pretending to be Doris Day. 

The songs are the same, of course. And they are well enough sung to get those who know them already humming along - although the company don’t do enough to make such joining in feel as if it is obligatory. What they do, they do well, but without ever making it feel as if they are creating something special. 

The plot is the same too, with Calamity as the gun-totting guard on the stagecoach to the wild-west town of Deadwood. She thinks she’s in love with Lieutenant Danny from the local fort, and when she finds him falling for cigarette card pin-up girl Adelaide Adams, she goes off to Chicago to persuade Adelaide to perform at Deadwood. 

As this is a 1950s show, with 1950s ideals, Calamity clearly has to sacrifice her sense of femininity to her masculine profession. And as a woman, she has no idea of what she really wants. She thinks she loves the lieutenant. But deep down it is obvious that she’s really in love with Wild Bill Hickok. 

Toyah takes the character and plays her for laughs, while creating a woman who is genuinely naive. She’s made no sacrifice, but simply has no idea of how she appears to others - even though she is desperate to be the centre of attention. 

If the overall production - without taking account of Toyah - is slightly lacklustre, it still contains some stand-out moments. The men’s rendition of Adelaide, dancing around as if they were the female chorus in a Busby Berkeley is a peach. 

And when Katie Brown struts and purrs on the bar top of the Deadwood Saloon, actress Kellie Ryan makes her sexy, raunchy and generally provocative in a way that would be difficult to surpass. 

Ryan is not quite as strong a singer as Toyah, but when Katie and Calamity move in together at Calamity’s run-down ranch, their duets and routines work effortlessly. Ryan’s duets with Dustin Dubreuil as Lieutenant Danny are equally pretty to listen to. 

For a really powerful voice, the show has to rely on Alasdair Harvey in the role of Bill Hickok. Unfortunately, the character is under-used in the show itself. But when he does get to let rip, Harvey has a rich, full voice. 

Professional and well constructed though this production may be, without Toyah, it would certainly only deserve three stars. But she does enough to make the difference. 

Thom Dibdin.

The Scotsman: Calamity Jane - 29th January 2003
Calamity Jane at the King's Theatre, Glasgow

Camp, camp and more camp: depending on your point of view, it’s either the best thing to happen to western culture, or the sign that an art-form is slipping into self-obsession. Both Calamity Jane - the stage show of the 1953 movie starring Doris Day - and William Luce’s One Helluva Life, about the dying days of the life of Hollywood and Broadway star John Barrymore, are shows about showbusiness; and, as such, are full of the knowing camp self-awareness that showbiz folk love so much. But that, roughly speaking, is where the similarity ends, if only because the two shows handle that awareness so differently, and with varying levels of energy. 

In the decades since the movie was released, Calamity Jane has become a cult hit with the gay community. It’s not difficult to see why. On one hand, there’s the show’s famously cheesy 1950s plot about how a butch little girl like Calamity, who rides shotgun on the stagecoach to her Dakota hometown of Deadwood, can find her true destiny with the right man. On the other hand, there’s a subtext that any modern audience can notice, as Calamity and Katie, the ultra-feminine chanteuse from the Golden Garter saloon, shack up and start home-making together in Calamity’s tumbledown cabin. 

The enjoyable thing about Ed Cortis’s production - performed by a smallish cast of 15-plus live band - is the high energy and good nature with which it holds these two aspects of the show in tension. Toyah Willcox’s amazingly athletic Calamity is all on the wide-eyed, naive, play-it-straight-and-give-it-hell side of the equation. 

I suppose some might be irritated by the production’s refusal to send-up the original, but I liked this Calamity’s vivid effort to preserve the tension between a longing for conventional romance and a knowledge that the real world is often otherwise, which gives this show its edge of poignancy, and shapes the best of its songs. 

And if sheer good humour and skill, plenty of fun musical numbers and a rousing, well-choreographed finale add up to a good night out, then Calamity Jane certainly makes the grade. 

Joyce McMillan 

Sunday Herald: Calamity Jane - 26th January 2003
Calamity Jane at the King's Theatre, Glasgow

Truth may be stranger than fiction, but that doesn't mean it makes the best stories. Originally written for the 1953 film starring Doris Day, Calamity Jane is a musical celebrating the adventures of Midwestern frontierswoman Martha Jane Cannary, who died 100 years ago this August.

A hard-living but tender-hearted tomboy, she was known for her deadeye aim and her habit of riding upside-down in the saddle. She picked up her nickname by saving the life of an injured officer during a skirmish with Native Americans in Wyoming. She held down a variety of jobs including mule-skinner, outrider, prospector, Pony Express rider, gambler and nurse. At one time she was the sole female employee of the Northern Pacific Railroad. After establishing a sexually ambiguous menage with another woman, she unexpectedly wed the legendary sharp-shooter Wild Bill Hickok -- a roughneck more accustomed to consorting with glamorous showgirls.

Theirs was a turbulent but intense marriage, which finally perished when Hickok took a bullet during a poker dispute.

All of which should add up to a pretty rollicking tale -- and the movie's popularity extends well beyond its lesbian/camp following. Composer Sammy Fain is no Gershwin and lyricist Paul Francis Webster no Sondheim, but the songs are by turns rousing (The Deadwood Stage), amusing (Careless With The Truth), pretty (Black Hills Of Dakota) and touching (the Oscar-winning Secret Love). But where Calamity Jane falls down is in its lack of narrative drive.

The stage adaptation by Charles K Freeman focuses on just two episodes from Jane's colourful life. In the first half, she makes a promise to the citizens of windswept Deadwood, Kansas. She'll brighten up their lives, she says, by bringing cigarette-card sweetheart Adelaid Adams to town. But following a mix-up in a Chicago theatre, she returns instead with Adelaid's dresser Katie Brown, who proves a poor substitute until she develops her own louche style of performance. Then there's a sudden shift in tone: the second act is a four-way tug of love between Jane, Wild Bill, Katie and cavalry officer Lieutenant Gilmartin. This is resolved in the tritest way imaginable and then the show ends.

Calamity Jane is not without its charms, but it's as subtle as a bullwhip and as emotionally engaging as a bowl of beans. So a full house on a Tuesday night is quite hard to account for ... unless you take two things into account. The first is that undemanding entertainment is popular. This isn't the ritziest musical that ever rode through town, but Ed Curtis's production is polished, colourfully designed and well lit, with a live orchestra and a very able supporting cast -- led by newcomer Kellie Ryan as Katie and Scotsman Alasdair Harvey as Bill.

The second -- which can't have escaped anyone's notice -- is that the show stars Toyah Willcox, lisping punk-pop heroine of the early 1980s. The speech impediment is long gone; replaced by a bubbly confidence, though I did expect more charisma in such a feisty role. I can't recommend Calamity Jane as gripping or innovative, but it seems Toyah in buckskins can still lasso an audience.

Andrew Burnet

Evening Times: Calamity Jane - 24th February 2003
Calamity Jane at the King's Theatre, Glasgow

Toyah Willcox has to be made of rubber ... for there is no way any real, flesh and bone 44-year-old woman could withstand the battering she takes on stage as the gun-toting heroine. 
She is flung around, hoisted up to dangle from assorted bits of scenery, tripped up, shot at and jumped on, all in the name of entertainment. 

At one point, judging by the collective gasp, everyone in my row were convinced she had smacked her head off a chair, but the beaming smile didn't falter for a second. 

Forget Doris Day's pseudo-macho Calamity, this is the real deal. 

Toyah is a fizzing bundle of energy. a wildcat hell-bent on sharp-shooting and hard-drinking the men out of Deadwood. 

Still it's just as well she has nailed the physical side of her character, as her voice never carried it. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of 80s pop Toyah, it's just that Musical Theatre Toyah doesn't have the awe-inspiring vocal ability of other actresses in the genre. 

None of the singers were outstanding on the opening night, with the exception of Hamilton-born Alasdair Harvey as Calamity's sparring partner Wild Bill Hickok. 

But it didn't matter, as we were all having such a whip-crackaway time anyway. 

And the story rattles along at a fine pace - apart from the really irritating scene changes, where various characters dance about with bits of scenery for no apparent reason. 

By Ann Fotheringham. 

David Fleming: Calamity Jane - 22nd January 2003
Calamity Jane at the King's Theatre, Glasgow

'Didn't I tell you 'bout the time when I was a scout for the army? I saved a major once. Pulled four arrows out of his hide, poison ones...He sure was a brave Major. He gave me my name, "You're a great one to have around in a time of calamity," That's what he said, that's what he said!' - Calamity Jane. 

Having never watched the famous film version, and heard little of the soundtrack, I wasn't sure what to expect from the legendary tale of Calamity Jane. I can honestly admit, despite being a huge Toyah fan, I couldn't imagine the musical being as superb as it certainly is. And it is superb, incredible, and every other superlative you care to mention. The show, a feel-good fest, has been constructed with so much care and attention to detail, even the set changes, though seamless and well-executed, were mini performances that garnered applause. 

The score too, even to these fresh ears, has some truly uplifting songs, particularly 'Black Hills Of Dakota', 'A Woman's Touch', 'Higher Than A Hawk' and 'Secret Love'. Prepare to be humming those for weeks after... 
The musical really does capture that Wild West feel too and the sunset backdrop is almost worth a visit alone. The entire cast are excellent, great accents, singing, interaction, it's obvious that they all get along well, they really do seem a happy gang of cowboys and girls. Aladair Harvey (from Hamilton, just outside of Glasgow)and Kellie Ryan, in particular, as Wild Bill Hickok and Katie Brown, almost steal the show. 

But not quite. This is Toyah's show. Toyah IS Calamity Jane. She puts so much into the role that even a seasoned fan, for the duration of the show, will put aside that it's TW up there. Toyah really does become Jane for those two hours onstage; the swagger, the attitude, and the bravado. She is at the heart of almost every scene and each facial expression, gesture and nuance is captivating. Jane climbs every available piece of scenery, hangs from the rafters, is thrown and swung, yet Toyah rarely stops even to draw breath. Little wonder she is loking so fit just now. 

Jane's journey, from macho cowgirl to fully fledged woman in love, is, not only, a bumpy ride, but an awesome two hours of fun, laughter, tears and joy. Toyah puts her heart and soul into playing Calamity Jane and last night she performed 'Secret Love' with enough passion and tenderness to melt even the toughest Glasgow heart. 

I'd say Jane is easily the best role of Toyah's stage career, possibly, if you'll excuse the cliché, the role she was born to play. I can't imagine any other actress playing Jane half as well, or enjoying being Jane half as much. 

Yep, Toyah IS Calamity Jane - Please don't miss out! 

Reviews Gate: Calamity Jane - 18th November 2002
Calamity Jane at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

A great ensemble performance but a huge portion of success has to be owed to the breath-takingly energetic performance from Toyah Willcox as Jane: frankly I don't know how she sustains the pace. And whether she's jumping on a bar counter, being tossed in a blanket or swinging upside-down from rafters Wilcox's Jane is so engaging she charms you out of your seat. This Jane seems to take a naïve joy in the world around her from which her extravagant story-telling stems quite naturally. Importantly this vivacious character is not subjugated into a girly, mawkish marriage at the end. Wilcox appears in an extremely elegant trouser suit: you sense her marriage to Bill Hickok will be a partnership. Full marks to Wilcox and director Ed Curtis for offering this more acceptable ending to us. 

Alasdair Harvey's Hickok is a good pairing for this Jane. He's tough, no doubt about it, but not ridiculously macho: we never lose sight of a real person. Harvey has a warm and friendly singing voice, too, specially in his lower registers. Jane's and Bill's revelation about their mutual love is a danger area, a potential trap of clockwork plotting and comedic convenience. But the pair pull it off superbly letting us believe it's the most natural thing in the world. 

It's a pleasure to hear so many famous songs in context, none more so than Black Hills Of Dakota, a welcome quiet moment before the final run, Dustin Dubreuil's (Lt Gilmartin) dark, rich voice suiting it perfectly. 
The whole is directed with welcome wit by Ed Curtis who has cleansed the show of sentimental overload (I love the scene where Jane tends Gilmartin's wound). A great partnership with designer Simon Higlett who has created a flexible set with humour (little houses to sit on – lovely.) 

BBCi Birmingham: Calamity Jane - 15th November 2002
Calamity Jane at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

Calamity Jane is a star vehicle, it's a musical which stands or falls on the performance of it's central character, and while Toyah Willcox proved to be a highly athletic and animated 'Calamity', she lacked the emotional vulnerability and vocal range the part requires. 

There is however, plenty to enjoy about the production. The musical tells of her exploits as a hard-drinking, gunslinging frontierswoman who's taught a few home truths by the man she loves. 
Deadwood, South Dakota is created by using a stylised, versatile set which includes excellent lighting effects, and an imaginative use of models and flats. 

Calamity, as played by Toyah Willcox, is a rough and ready tomboy who loves spinning tall tales. I would have preferred her to have looked a little more dirty and scruffy, as frontier towns probably lacked decent laundries. But she certainly bounced around the set with great enthusiasm using the bar and rafters of Miller's saloon to great effect. 

Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity's sparring partner (and husband) is played with real panache by Alasdair Harvey, whose singing was, for me, the highlight of the show. Indeed praise must go to the whole company for the ensemble songs and dance routines. 

My particular favourite was the number Adelaid, which featured the men of Deadwood mooning over a cigarette card idol, Adelaid Adams. Their harmony work and choreographed pinnings, complete with glitter-ball lighting effect made me smile. 

It's precisely because the rest of the cast sang so well that Toyah's vocal range seemed limited in comparison. She coped with songs like Careless with the Truth, and was fine with her lower register but seemed to have trouble changing gear for the higher notes, Secret Love proving the most difficult and least successful of her numbers. 

Katie Brown, the girl who is transformed from downtrodden maid to singing vamp, complete with fishnets and scarlet corset was confidently played by Kellie Ryan, and Dustin Dubreuil looked every inch the dashing Army Lieutenant. 

The feel of a wild west frontier town, where the fastest gun made the law, and civilisation was a railroad and coach ride away was certainly created by this production. It was, sadly, just a little lacking in magic.

By Felicity Arblaster

Hull Daily Mail: Cracking Performance - 6th November 2002
Calamity Jane at the New Theatre, Hull

She's a whip-cracking, all singing, gun slinging heroine - and sometimes she can be a bit grumpy when she doesn't get her own way. 

But for all her foibles, Calamity Jane wins our hearts with her tomboy style and mean line in insults. 
Calamity fans will remember the huge white smile and beautiful voice of Doris Day, when she first brought the character to life on the Hollywood screen alongside Howard Keel as Wild Bill Hicock. But the surprisingly diminutive Toyah Willcox proved more than a match in a hugely energetic performance on stage at Hull New Theatre as part of a national tour.

The star, who had hits in the early 80s with songs such as It's A Mystery, apparently does three hours of aerobics each day. And she'd certainly need it to be fit enough for this role. Calamity not only swings from the rafters while singing at the top of her voice, she rides on the top of the Deadwood stagecoach and wrestles with her cowboy friends before heading out to do battle with an Indian war party. 

The character she plays is based on real-life Wild West cowgirl Martha Jane Cannary, who lived in the 1900s and was nicknamed Calamity Jane because trouble followed her everywhere. 

The sell-out first night saw the Wild West brought to life in true cowboy style, complete with sarsaparilla and frilly-skirted dancing girls. The tale begins when a somewhat over-confident Calamity boasts to her Deadwood friends that she can coax a huge singing star all the way from the windy city of Chicago to perform for them. 

But, unsurprisingly, all does not go according to plan, and Calam ends up with egg on her face when the regulars at the Golden Garter saloon realise her "star" is not quite what was promised. However, her bruised ego is soothed by her newfound friend, aspiring singing star Katie Brown, and they soon set up home together. 

All is calm - that is until Calam, who has undergone something of a transformation under Katie's feminine influence, realises she now has a rival for the affections of the dashing Lieutenant Danny Gillmartin and fast-drawing cowboy Wild Bill Hicock. 

It's a pretty good tale, but that's not what makes Calamity Jane so engaging - it's the colourful characters, thigh slapping dance routines and cracking tunes - including the Oscar winning Secret Love. 
Toyah turns in a dynamic performance as Calamity, a character whose unbelievably tall tales of courageous acts and endless streams of insults only make her more loveable. 

She is supported by an excellent cast in a show which is guaranteed to put a smile on anyone's face.

BBCi Hull: Calamity Jane - 3rd November 2002
Calamity Jane at the New Theatre, Hull

Calamity Jane was a hard-drinking, rough-living wild woman of the west, yet beneath the dusty buckskins, she had a sensitive and sentimental nature, nicknamed Calamity because it followed her everywhere. 

Toyah Willcox played the title role in Hull. Calamity Jane is a stagecoach driver and professional gambler. A real tomboy. She thinks she’s in love with Lt Danny Gilmartin, that is, until she sees Wild Bill Hickok (her old friend) in a different light. 

Throw in some bar room brawls, jealousy, gun-totting cowboys and saloon girls and you have an energetic, high voltage show that raced from start to finish. 

Having not seen Toyah Willcox on stage before, I had no idea what to expect from either her performance or the show. But, as soon as the curtain went up, it was obvious this was going to be a very special performance. 

From the opening number, Deadwood Stage involving the entire cast, all of whom put their heart and soul into it, to the rip-roaring finale, there wasn’t one person in the audience at the New Theatre in Hull who was not on their feet at the end, in awe of the magic that they had just witnessed. 

The biggest cheer, was saved for the diminutive Toyah Willcox. She has proved herself a million miles away from the punk diva she portrayed in the 80's, singing and dancing with such passion and energy. 
Special mention to Kellie Ryan (Katie Brown). She recently graduated from Arts and Educational College and this was one of her first, professional performances. I think she has a big future ahead of her. She was excellent in the part and had a very strong voice. 

Alasdair Harvey (Wild Bill) and Dustin Dubrevil (Lt Danny Gilmartin) were both outstanding, with vocal performances to rival anyone in any West End Show. 

Calamity Jane is a fantastic night out for all the family. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

By Christine Cummings

Manchester Onstage: Calamity Jane - 11th October 2002
Calamity Jane at the Opera House, Manchester

This story of the Wild West, when men are men and women are men, has a lot to recommend it. It is good family entertainment and you willingly suspend your disbelief as it bowls along like desert tumbleweed.

Toyah Willcox was perfect as Calamity in a show, which is so littered with popular tunes that it is hard to stop yourself from singing along. Toyah has such a distinctive voice that is a world away from Doris Day, but because of this, you are not tempted to make comparisons. Her Calamity is more believable, she makes the part her own, with such energy and perkiness that she carries you along. Her erstwhile friend, the hard-drinking gunslinger, Wild Bill Hickok, is played with style and with an excellent singing voice by Alasdair Harvey. He is manly, strong and sings with conviction. Kellie Ryan as Katie Brown is excellent; her acting and singing are first rate, and she has a peppy style which suits the part so well. 

The stage set is over clever and tends to impose itself on the action and the cast, and the silly little houses don’t come off. The sound on first night was poor. The production has fussy directing at the expense of content. The stage is underused and all the characters grouped in corners.

Although the chorus are good, this Deadwood City has too many women in it and far too few men. It seems peculiar that the men are yearning for an actress from Chicago when there are so many lovely women already in town. However all these things do not really detract from a rip-roaringly good night of musical theatre with an energising feel. I, for one, enjoyed myself.

By Brenda Kean

Manchester Evening News: Toyah is whipping up a real whirlwind - 8th October 2002
Calamity Jane at the Opera House, Manchester

She's just blown in from the windy city - that whip-cracking, pistol-packing, hell-raising whirlwind of a gal. In this new production of Calamity Jane, immortalised on screen by Doris Day amazingly 50 years ago, diminutive Toyah Willcox gets to show how it should be done. 

Hers is a feisty, high-octane performance. She leaps off the stage coach, climbs on to the rafters, gets tossed in a blanket - and comes back for more. Yet you know she's soft-centred enough to fall in love with Wild Bill Hickock. 

After all, this is what happened with the real Jane and Bill back in those gold rush days - and they lie buried next to each other in Deadwood still. 

Director Ed Curtis has put together a lively production, although he has a tendency to get people to sing lying down - never a good position for a singer. The dancers look athletic when given the chance, but are underused.

Simon Higlett's big barn of a set, with the illuminated cow-town in the distance, has atmosphere - and a realistic stage coach. James Whiteside's imaginative lighting gives us memorable skies and sunsets. 

But the driving force of this show is Toyah herself - and she is well-supported. Alasdair Harvey as Wild Bill has real presence and a fine voice, Kellie Ryan makes a convincing Katie Brown, the novice saloon entertainer who feminises Calamity, and Dustin Dubreuil is a heart-throb lieutenant.

Music director Adam Goodman, after early sound and balance problems, keeps his band bubbling nicely along - and those great Fain and Webster songs are as catchy as ever.

BBCi Staffordshire: Calamity Jane - 5th October 2002
Calamity Jane at Regent Theatre, Hanley, Stoke On Trent

Calamity Jane and Doris Day went together, well, like a horse and carriage - until Tuesday night at the Regent Theatre in Hanley when Toyah Willcox took to the stage as the rootin' tootin' gun totin' larger than life cowgirl from Deadwood. 

This is an action packed, fast paced story of life in the Wild West in 1876 when it was easier to get shot than to buy a drink! 

Toyah takes the character of Calamity Jane a stage further than Doris Day's fairly sweet image in the 1953 film version. 

She plays her as a strong-minded woman who loves to prove that she can out gun and out whip all the men in Deadwood - with the exception of Wild Bill Hickock (brilliantly played by Alasdair Harvey) who she just about considers an equal, and the handsome army lieutenant Danny Gilmartin (Dustin Dubreuil) who she thinks she is in love with. 

Calamity Jane is full of classic songs - Blackhills of Dakota, Secret Love, Windy City and, of course, The Deadwood Stage and Toyah whip-cracks her way through them all with tremendous energy and vitality. She said in a recent interview on BBC Radio Stoke that she loves the role and it shows. 

Simon Higlett's set design is inspired and James Whitesides lighting effects as he gives us vast expanses of western sky are a delight. 

A nearly full house gave the show a rousing welcome to the Potteries and I am sure I was not the only member of the audience that left that night singing 'Oh The Deadwood Stage...'

By Su Ashford

Stoke Sentinel: Calamity Jane - 3rd October 2002
Calamity Jane at Regent Theatre, Hanley, Stoke On Trent

Combining the brash with the wistful, this musical began life in 1953 as a hugely popular film starring Doris Day and Howard Keel. Calamity Jane features a host of memorable songs and tunes, including Black Hills Of Dakota and Oscar-winning Secret Love, but the success of the show depends upon the casting of our diminutive heroine, Calamity Jane.

Toyah's own, highly diverse, career as stage and screen actress and recording star enables her to inhabit the lead role with a rip-roaring interpretation.

Californian-born Dustin Dubreuk gives a suitably dashing performance as gallant cavalry officer Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin and Alasdair Harvey is, by turns, a chauvinist and a droll dandy as Wild Bill Hickock.

An amusing sub-plot sees Jane journeying to the big city of Chicago, intent on bringing top entertainer Adelaid Adams back to her backwater town to delight its unwashed denizens but mistakenly returning with her maid.

Another star of the evening is the ingenious combination of sets.

Terry Winter

Rob Cope: Calamity Jane - 2nd October 2002
Calamity Jane at Regent Theatre, Hanley, Stoke On Trent

It is a very brave thing to tackle a role so synonamous with a legend like Doris Day. This is the first professional tour of Calamity Jane for 20 years (I think the last one featured Barbara Windsor as CJ) and so there are plenty of high expectations from the theatre world in general, not to mention legions of Toyah's admirers. 

In case there is anyone who doesn't know the story it centres around the tomboy cowgirl Calamity who has a repuation for tall stories concerning her exploits killing indians and the like. When the local show bar owner hires an act named Francis Fryer the town folk of Deadwood revolt when they descover it isn't a buxom beauty but a song and dance man ! In the heat of the moment Calamity promises she will bring back the vaudeville star Adelaide Adams from Chicago to perform in Deadwood. Off then she sets for the big city, and finds Adelaide Adams maid Katie Brown posing in her mistresses costumes backstage. Mistaking Katie for Adelaide, she invites her back to perform in Deadwood. Keeping up the deception, Katie - who has always wanted to be a singer - accepts. Naturally her first appearance in Deadwood is a disaster and she owns up to being plain old Katie. But she wins over the hearts of the towns folk and they forgive her and place her on a pedestal as Deadwood's own star.   However, trouble brews when she falls in love with handsome cavalry lieutenant Danny Gilmartin on whom Calamity also has set her sights. It takes the intervention of Wild Bill Hickok to help save Katie from the wrath of Calamity Jane...

The songs are timeless: The Deadwood Stage, It's Harry I'm Planning To Marry, Windy City, Higher Than A Hawk, Black Hills Of Dakota and the Oscar winning Secret Love performed with great panache by the 10 piece orchestra.The 19 strong cast are all exceptional, with West End star Alasdair Harvey bringing his mighty voice to Wild Bill Hickok and Kellie Ryan provides just the right amount of comedy and pathos as Katie Brown.

But what of Toyah herself. It has to be said that vocally she can't match the torch singing of Doris Day. Her voice darts between 'chest' and 'head' as she goes for the higher notes. What really makes this her show, is the amazing physicality of the piece. She is completely amazing firing at Indians, cracking whips, being thrown up into the air, wrestling Wild Bill...  She gives 110% from her very first entrance, after a while everyone in the audience I'm sure forgot all about Miss Day as Toyah melted the hearts of everyone. She may be tiny but she sure can fill a stage with her personality. And what an actress. She manages to portray every emotion plus adding a fine comedic touch to many scenes, seemingly with ease. She certainly looks amazing too, her long blonde locks making her look nowhere near her 43 years. Beautiful is certainly not too strong a word. 

Sure there are gripes from this seasoned theatre goer. The first half is over long (1hr 25 mins) and the pace slows mid way so perhaps some cuts are due. But judging by the reaction from the first night audience in Stoke they thoroughly approve of the production, the biggest cheers of the night were for Toyah's walk down to the footlights. This is without doubt going to be rated as one of Toyah's biggest theatre successes for sure. Well done to all concerned and particularly Toyah for proving that once again the minx can defy her critics even when tackling one of the all time great musical roles. Yeee haaa !

By Rob Cope

Whats On Stage: Calamity Jane - 21st September 2002
Calamity Jane at Derngate Theatre, Northampton

Calamity Jane is a rip roarin’ musical, boasting unforgettable numbers, including The Deadwood Stage, Black Hills of Dakota and Windy City. Incredibly, the larger-than-life fast-shooting heroine who prefers male attire and never looks before she leaps into the trouble that inspired her moniker, is actually based on a real frontierswoman. And yes folks, Wild Bill Hickock, the man in whom she meets her match, is for real too! 

According to the programme, Calamity went to great lengths to demonstrate that she posed no threat when she rode through ‘Indian country’. It’s a pity then that the musical shows signs of outdated political incorrectness when her (admittedly untrue) boast of killing thirty ‘Injuns’, soon after she first appears perched atop the Deadwood Stage, is played for laughs. It makes the lyric beautiful Indian country that I love feel distinctly uncomfortable to me. 

Of course you could argue that it’s a period piece, but there are other ways in which at times it strikes the wrong note for me. Why do the only visible female population of Deadwood appear to have almost nothing to wear but tatty – though undeniably sexy – underwear? Kellie Ryan makes a delicious wannabe singer, but it seems a shame that the acme of her ambitions is to titillate dozy male customers at Deadwood's saloon. And I find the number A Woman’s Touch a touch too cute. 

Robertson Hare played a character in farces, whose catch phrase was ‘Oh Calamity!’ I’d be a real killjoy to pinch it to describe the production. Toyah Willcox’s Jane is a fierce bundle of blonde ambition, banishing images of Doris Day in the film, though she does have to hit the high notes running. It would be churlish not to applaud the whole cast for matching her high-energy performance – from Alasdair Harvey’s amused and amusing Bill to the committed chorus. A live orchestra (musical direction, Peter White) adds to the excitement. And the show gets off to a good start with Simon Higlett’s miniature Wild West Town revealed behind giant swinging wooden doors. 

But a combination of the failure of the sound system at the midweek matinee (so it was hard to tell if Simon Whitehorn's sound design was at fault too) and rather unimaginative direction by Ed Curtis and choreography by Craig Revel Horwood ultimately made the production seem uninspired. Perhaps this one’s just not worth reviving, despite the great tunes. 

Judi Herman 

Daventry Express: No Calamity for Toyah  - 19th September 2002
Calamity Jane at Derngate Theatre, Northampton

Yeee-Ha! - Book a seat on the Deadwood stage and head wild wild west for a colourful cowboy classic. 

Calamity Jane (Toyah Willcox) is a rough and ready tomboy who enjoys shooting, fighting and a fiery relationship with wise-cracking gambler Wild Bill Hickock (Alasdair Harvey). 

While Bill despairs of his friend's unladylike behaviour, Calamity sees no reason to change her ways - until her old sparring partner teaches her an important lesson in love and friendship. 

Fans of the classic film version won't be disappointed in this latest adaptation, which combines high-energy performances with toe-tapping tunes and dazzling dance routines. 

Willcox and Harvey are excellent, with the comic interplay and true friendship of their characters cleverly highlighted in the hugely enjoyable duet, I Can Do Without You, whileamongst a superb supportng cast, Kellie Ryan and Phil Ormerod are also worthy of special mention. 

The only slight dsappointment is in Calamity's rendition of Secret Love. As one used to the famous Doris Day version, I found Miss Willcox's voice wasn't quite powerful enough to do full justice to the Oscar-winning song. 

However, this is a minor quibble, as this stunning production effortlessly captures the warmth, vibrancy and 'feel-good-factor' of the movie, ensuring that, like me, you'll be leaving the theatre singing. 

A rottin' tootin' delight! 

By Trudi Buck.

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