Tony Taylor, Virginia Gay & Sheriden Harbridge. Photo: John Mcrae

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For a neglected musical, it sure has a lot of love! The Hayes Theatre’s current production of Calamity Jane is one of those shows you enjoy all the more because the cast is having so much fun. In the style of “neglected musical”, where a show has a short rehearsal period, freestyle ad libbing, forgivable mistakes and a lot of self referential humour, this production still manages to respect the classic original and retain its charm.

Virginia Gay’s Calamity Jane is like a mid-western Xena Warrior Princess, tough and robust but still very sexy. As if by intention, Laura Bunting’s Katie Brown is gentler, more diminutive like Gabrielle. Their interaction has all the simmering sexual “are they/will they?” tension of Xena & Gabrielle, except they do it through song – and don’t they have fun with “A Woman’s Touch”!

Anthony Gooley as Wild Bill Hickock and Matthew Pearce as Lt Danny Gilmartin play their roles fairly straight, acting as foils for the comic cheekiness of the others.

Rob Johnson (Francis Fryer), Sheridan Harbridge (Susan), and Tony Taylor (Henry Miller) are wonderfully vaudvillian, stepping into minor characters with self aware clumsiness and hilarity.

Musical director Nigel Ubrihien joins the troupe as the on stage piano player – the only instrument apart from an occasional tuba.

This is an absolute must see…and that’s not being careless with the truth! (It’s an in joke.)

Mar 8-Apr 1. The Hayes Theatre, 19 Greenknowe Ave, Potts Point. $55-$68. Tickets & Info: www.hayestheatre.com.au

By Rita Bratovich.