Reviewed by David Smith
We’ve said it before but it can’t be stated often enough that the Murray Bridge Players and Singers, and groups in their position, do a great deal of good in keeping the performing arts buoyant in our non-metropolitan regions. Their latest offering, Calamity Jane, admirably reinforces that.
Director Di Walton, along with MD Benjamin Gallasch presented a traditional and thoroughly enjoyable production of this well-loved musical, with its big complement of Sammy Fain’s warmly familiar tunes.
Amanda Hill was a fine, sassy Calamity. She sang delightfully and struck a nice balance between being a knock-about tomboy and an having an underlying vulnerability. Opposite her was Brendan Watts as Bill Hickock. He was a good foil, being still and studied while she was brash and impulsive. His warm baritone, especially in the lower register, suited the mood and music well.
The experienced Noel Kneebone, as saloon owner Henry Miller was active and entertaining. His energy was infectious, tangibly lifting the whole cast. Rebecca Netherway was charming and convincing as Katie, Corey Beinke made a good fist of his role as Danny Gilmartin, although his pitch strayed a little in the duets. Hannah Smith, as Miller’s niece Susan, made the most of her small but significant role. She was natural, and had good presence and timing.
The set was attractive and functional. The upper balcony in the saloon, however, while looking great, could have been used for some of the principals' scenes. Overall, though, it tied in well with the general interpretation of the musical.
The cast of Calamity Jane: Corey Bienke, Rebecca Netherway, Amanda Hill and Brendan Watts