When I saw the latest play at the old Fitzroy theatre, ‘Crimes of the Heart’, I was struck by how much it felt like being in a theatre off -Broadway. This is the term given to theatres close to Broadway, generally smaller venues, which create theatre with the same credentials as larger Broadway productions. This is a wonderful piece, well acted, gorgeously designed, and expertly directed by Janine Watson who is such a talented actress herself. Although this is not a new play it is a fascinating reference point in the history of Women’s Rights in the western world. We certainly have traveled some distance from the times when a married woman was the property of her husband – this thinking was still in force in the 1960s. The play is not just a political piece but also manages to give some dimension to its major protagonists. This is definitely one to catch!
Calamity Jane is a 1960s musical adaptation from a ’50s film starring Doris Day. The merits of the musical are actually irrelevant to this production which explodes with such sing/acting/dancing/musical talent from the cast that even a fairly trite plot is engaging, funny and poignant.
Virginia Gay plays Calamity to perfection. She looks just right and her vocal skills are well showcased in the variety of genres which she sings. Her skill is such that even though the play is quite self referential and there are many jokes which work to draw her out of her character she is still so endearing in her character that I was moved by her declaration of love at the finale. I saw her last year ( in Hidden Sydney) and swore I would never miss her in a live performance… and I shall keep my promise.
Anthony Gooley and Sheridan Harbridge are very experienced multi talented actors whom I have seen ( and reviewed ) many times. They are both outstanding. Sheridan has a beautiful voice and is very comfortable in this genre. Anthony is a serious multi-award winning actor and it was a pleasure to see him in this light hearted piece.
The rest of the cast are all capable and the ensemble work is beautifully judged.
I loved the way the stage was utilised in this production and ‘audience participation’ which is usually cringe-worthy was brilliantly incorporated into the script.
This is such a winning production that it is probably going to be sold out within five minutes .. so do not delay in purchasing tickets.