Calamity Jane

Previewed 12 June 2003, opened 26 June 2003, closed 20 September 2003 at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London

Toyah Willcox stars in this feel-good musical hit of the summer written by Sammy Fain, Paul Francis Webster, Phil Park and Ronald Hanmer - the first time ever Calamity Jane has been staged in London's West End! With a score that includes the classic songs: 'The Deadwood Stage (Whip-Crack-Away)', 'Windy City' and 'Secret Love'.

The cast for Calamity Jane in London features Toyah Wilcox in the title role. Directed by Ed Curtis with choreography by Craig Revel Horwood, designs by Simon Higlett, lighting by James Whiteside, sound by Simon Whitehorn and musical direction by Robert Cousins. Adapted for the stage by Charles K Freeman from a screenplay by James O'Hanlon with music by Sammy Fain, lyrics by Paul Francis Webster and arrangements by Philip J Lang.

Calamity Jane centres around Calamity's effort to save Deadwood's entertainment venue, The Golden Garter, from ruin by bringing the singing star, Adelaide Adams, to perform there. Calamity promises the patrons of the Garter that she will personally bring Miss Adams back from Chicago.

In Chicago, she sees Adelaide Adam's show, from the back of the theatre, but later mistakes Miss Adams' stage struck maid, Katie Brown, for the star. Katie, realising the mistake, seizes the opportunity to make her dreams come true by posing as Adelaide. After crossing dangerous terrain, with Indians in hot pursuit, the two arrive in Deadwood to tremendous fanfare. The men are delighted that Calamity has kept 'her word' and brought the great Adelaide to perform for them. Especially pleased are Lt. Danny Gillmartin and Wild Bill Hickock, who both immediately take a liking to 'Miss Adams'. On her opening night, Katie goes onstage and gives a disastrous performance. A disappointed audience boos her after she confesses that she has deceived them. Calamity comes to her rescue, imploring the angry crowd to give Katie a chance. Surprisingly, they agree to let her sing. With renewed confidence, Katie delivers a great show and Deadwood now has it's own 'Adelaide Adams'.

Katie and Calamity become close friends and share Jane's cabin. But when Lt. Gillmartin becomes smitten with Katie, Calamity becomes jealous and orders Katie to get out of town. Katie, not wanting to come between Calamity and 'the man she loves', leaves Deadwood. Meanwhile, 'Calamity' begins to see Bill in a different way; as the man she has 'secretly' loved all along. Katie has cultivated Calamity's feminine side since her arrival and she is starting to turn heads in the town - including Bill's. It is not long before Calamity and Bill are declaring undying love for each other. When Calamity discovers that Katie has actually left Deadwood, she vows to bring her back. She catches up with the stagecoach to tell Katie the news that she is getting married, but that she would be 'Mrs. Hickock', not 'Mrs Gilmartin'. A double wedding ensues with Katie marrying the lieutenant and Bill marrying the now more feminine, Calamity Jane.

"The original film had not much subtlety or finesse but it had Doris Day as the title character and, as I recall, lots of energy. This theatre version has Toyah Willcox in the lead and, when she is acting the tomboy in her cowgirl suit, even more energy. Think of a hyperactive leprechaun, or an elf who has overdosed on adrenalin, and you have her Calamity Jane. Willcox hops, skips, pants, bounces, bustles, gasps, grins, flaps her arms, waves her pony-tail, bangs off her pistols, falls to the floor, scampers onto podia or up walls... She is the bubbling epicentre of Ed Curtis's relentlessly larky production. She batters you into being charmed by her. It is exhausting. Still, that means that the story whizzes by, which is just as well, for it's nothing special." The Times

Calamity Jane began life as a 1953 Doris Day film, though it has since established itself as a minor theatrical warhorse. The story, set in and around a saloon in Deadwood, Dakota is (shall we say?) adequate to its purposes. The show's great asset is Sammy Fain's score: Secret Love was one of Doris Day's greatest hits, and there is a string of other highly hummable numbers, including Windy City, Black Hills of Dakota and the honky-tonk It's Harry I'm Planning to Marry. The new production at the Shaftesbury Theatre features Toyah Wilcox as Calamity. She is prodigiously energetic, swinging from a rafter, bouncing in a blanket, flapping, scrapping, shooting off in all directions. The rest of the cast enter into the spirit of the thing, too. It's no masterpiece, but it's good undemanding fun." The Sunday Telegraph

"Toyah Willcox upset thousands of fans when she dumped the lead role in Calamity Jane to appear in TV's I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! But it was a jungle out there, and she didn't last long. Now she's back in the part of the whip-cracking tomboy, bringing a touch of the Wild West to the West End - and probably wishing she had stayed away. A plateful of caterpillars must be better than a critical savaging. Frankly, she's a calamity - get her out of there. Her microphoned voice gives her a mouthful of sibilant snakes and does something weird to her Ts, too. She bounces around the stage as if on springs. Like a hyperactive child who has guzzled a gallon of Coke and a bucket of Smarties, she's tireless. She's also, alas, charmless and that leaves a hole in a show which depends on our being captivated by Calam's cock-ups... Ed Curtis's cheap and cheerful production rattles along enjoyably enough with a well sung tune or two, Black Hills Of Dakota and Higher Than A Hawk in particular. Why Michael Cormick plays Wild Bill Hickok as a clean-shaven dude is odd because it makes his romance with Calam so implausible. But the real problem is the absence of Doris Day. No one cracks a whip quite like her." The Mail on Sunday

Calamity Jane in London at the Shaftesbury Theatre previewed from 12 June 2003, opened on 26 June 2003 and closed on 20 September 2003