It was full steam ahead on the Deadwood Stage last week as Berwick Operatic Society hurtled onto the set with ‘Calamity Jane’.
The talented group looked to the traditional realms of musical once again this year, and it was a change of tact that most definitely paid off.
Director Mark Pentecost, his creative team and cast delivered an entertaining romp which, although packed full of musical numbers, never felt like it outstayed its welcome.
Cracking her whip at the top of the bill, Lynn Ireland made the perfect Calamity Jane. She’s gone on record to say it was her dream role and you could certainly tell. Anyone that’s been in the audience for an Eyemouth Variety show will know what a fantastic singing voice Lynn has and, once again, songs like ‘Secret Love’, which she made sound an Oscar winner, showed this off to perfection. But Lynn’s characterisation was the most impressive aspect of her performance.
This was a lot feistier than other roles Lynn has played in recent times. But decked out in deer skin and gun in hand, she roughed things up to great aplomb. The way she moved around the stage; her tomboyish mannerisms; and her strong, and when needed snarly, delivery of the script were right on the money.
Lynn is no stranger to a leading lady pedestal, but enjoying the dizzy heights for the first time, Laura Catterall was also a joy to watch playing the part of Katie Brown.
The sugar to Calamity’s spice, Katie seemed the perfect fit for Laura, who played her with an unassuming confidence which really ingratiated her to the audience. Like Lynn, Laura is also blessed in the vocal department, with her voice bringing real warmth to the playful ‘Keep It Under Your Hat’ and the heartfelt ‘Love You Dearly’.
The ballad saw her duet with another performer who took on their first leading role, Slink Jadranko. His singing voice has to be one of the local theatre scene’s best-kept secrets, but there’s no way it should be hidden anymore. His soft tones really complimented Laura’s. But he also showed a more authoritative side in scenes with Danny’s love rival Wild Bill Hickock.
Playing Bill with the required puffed out chest, Steve Sadler was the ideal fit for the role. That’s not to say Steve was all swagger and no singing. He lent his voice well to the stubborn ‘I Can Do Without You’ and ‘High As A Hawk’, displaying the different shades to his voice. Director Mark Pentecost admitted it had been a struggle to find men to fill his ensemble, but the ones who entered the fold certainly did a sterling job.
Simon Landels was a great comedic asset as the ball of fun that was Francis Fryer, while Jim Herbert made a fantastically frantic Henry Miller.
And the girls got in on the comedy as well. Jackie Kaines Lang was almost unrecognisable as glamour puss Adelaide Adams, while Louise Wood led the chorus in fine fashion as bright-eyed barmaid Jo.
There were also impressive turns from Felicity Tunnard as Susan; Ray Howell as Doc Pierce and debutant Fergus Rae as Rattlesnake.
Choreography team Sheila Bradford and Lisa Summers deserve a round of applause for making group numbers ‘Deadwood Stage’ and ‘Windy City’ all singing all dancing affairs, while director Ron Creasey and vocal coach Margaret Gudgeon deserve credit for guiding the cast through some tricky harmonies in the likes of ‘The Blackhill of Dakota’.
Calamity? This show was anything but.
Calamity Jane: Lynn Ireland
Wild Bill Hickock: Steve
Lt Danny Gilmartin: Slink
Katie Brown: Laura Catterall
Adelaide Adams: Jackie Kaines Lang
Susan: Felicity Tunnard
Rattlesnake: Fergus Rae
Henry Miller: Jim Herbert
Francis Fryer: Simon
Jo: Louise Wood
Chorus: Jonathan Combe, Sylvia Dougall, Jessica Exley, Anne Hall, Ann Inglis, Kim Inglis, June O’Mara, Lucia O’Mara, Susan Potts, Tim Roake, Val Sanders, Sandra Storey, Olive Summers, Angela Winson
Director: Mark Pentecost
Choreographers: Sheila Bradford & Lisa Summers
Musical Director: Ron
Orchestra: Reed 1: Liane Todd, Reed 2: Sue Belshaw, Trumpet: Dave Parnaby, Trombone: Remo Forte,
Synthesizer: Rena Telfer, Piano: Margaret Rowland, Double Bass: Aubrey Sanderson, Drums: Mark McLaughlan.