REVIEW: Calamity Jane, Sunderland Empire, until March 7

Calamity Jane
Calamity Jane
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THE Deadwood stage rolled into Sunderland and it was a bit of a rocky ride.

Calamity Jane opened at the Empire last night and things didn’t get off to the best of starts.

The audience was kept waiting, queuing outside the auditorium until the show was due to begin, and then it was another 20 minutes before it kicked off.

When the production did eventually get underway it was certainly a game of two halves.

The first act was slow and a bit lacklustre with a very amateur dramatic feel about it, including the curtain not going down at the end, leaving the cast in static pose.

However, the actors must have all had a can of Red Bull during the interval because the second act was a totally different performance, which had the audience on their feet at the end singing, cheering and clapping along.

Being a massive fan of the film, I was hugely excited to see how it would be transformed for the stage, but unfortunately was left a bit disappointed.

The set was boring and static, not changing once during the show, and the costumes left a lot to be desired. Even though the show’s set in the Wild West, an audience at a modern musical doesn’t want to see drab and dull, they want colour, glitz and glamour. A couple of chairs and wheels does not a stagecoach make.

The most disappointing thing of all for me was - no yellow dress - surely I’m not the only one who no matter how many times they’ve seen the film, stills gasps in awe when Calamity dons her canary yellow frock.

Jodie Prenger, who shot to fame in the BBC’s I’d Do Anything, gave a good performance as Calamity Jane, she was hugely entertaining and had the audience laughing along.

But, star of the show was bad boy from the Dales, former Emmerdale actor, Tom Lister, who saved the day with his portrayal of Wild Bill Hickok - a fabulous voice and a charisma which had a lot of the ladies in the audience swooning.

It was a slow burner, but overall Calamity Jane is a fun and enjoyable night out.