Theatre Review: ‘Calamity Jane’ at the Grand Opera House

By PETER McLOUGHLIN

Calamity Jane, at the Grand Opera House, is a musical production from the New Lyric Operatic Company.  It is set in the legendary town of Deadwood in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  The production is a light-hearted song-and-dance comedy, led by ballsy heroine Calamity Jane (Ciara Mackey).

All the markers of a solid musical are present here: strong choruses, exaggerated protagonists and unlikely romances.

The songs, despite the difficulty in hearing the lyrics of the opening number, are sung well and clearly.  Ciara Mackey and Karl McGuckin (who plays Wild Bill Hickok) perform their respective roles charmingly and both have a strong vocal and emotive presence.  Karl McGuckin in particular has a fine deep voice.

All the performers play their roles with a pertinent whimsical professionalism, and it is this ease in the nature of the colourful performances which ensure the audience can get on board with the characters and the story as it unfolds.

The narrative unfolds at an entertaining pace and the musical numbers complement the turns of the plot.  The story is simple but enjoyable – it is no Les Mis; but thankfully it doesn’t try to be.  It aims for a self-aware flamboyant style and it achieves it with bells on.

If you like musicals, Calamity Jane will no doubt entertain you.  If you don’t, it won’t win you over; but it is certainly a good example of its type.  The characters are likeable, and people of all ages will find the conclusion to the story a satisfying end to a fun-filled song and dance show.

Calamity Jane runs from Tue 26 Mar – Sat 30 Mar 2013 at the Grand Opera House

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