Calamity Jane transforms the Belvoir St Theatre stage into the Golden Garter Saloon following its debut at Hayes Theatre last season. One of the most iconic figures of the American Wild West, Calamity is charged with bringing a famed actress from Chicago, Adelaide Adams, back to the saloon for a highly anticipated performance.
The charismatic Virginia Gay shines as Calamity, giving us a woman struggling with gender expectations of the time, using her physical strength and verbal bravado to mask a deep vulnerability. Sheridan Harbridge is electrifying as Susan, the saloon owner’s raucous and rowdy niece, while Laura Bunting as the delicate Katie Brown navigates traditional femininity with graceful charm.
Directed by Richard Carroll, the production is joyful above all. The immersive nature of the performance is just right with some of the audience seated on stage gleefully making their unexpected theatrical debuts amongst the saloon’s shenanigans.
Cameron Mitchell’s choreography is fitting for the Belvoir stage – particularly with respect to Francis Fryer (Rob Johnson flexing his comedic chops) – while Nigel Ubrihien absolutely rocks the piano on-stage as musical director.
Though the conclusion of the play reverts to convention that lessens the exploration of what it means to have both feminine and masculine traits and the queer subtext imbued, Calamity Jane is a laugh-out-loud delight. Don’t miss it.
Until Sep 30. Belvoir St Theatre, 18 & 25 Belvoir St, Surry Hills. $37-$77+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.belvoir.com.au
Reviewed by Emily Shen.