Calamity Jane (musical)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Calamity Jane
(A Musical Western)
Music Sammy Fain
Lyrics Paul Francis Webster
Book Ronald Hanmer and Phil Park
Basis 1953 film Calamity Jane
Premiere May 27, 1961: Casa Mañana, Fort Worth, Texas

Calamity Jane (A Musical Western) is a stage musical which utilizes the historical figure of frontierswoman Calamity Jane as the central character in a fabricated somewhat farcical plot which involves the authentic Calamity Jane's professional associate Wild Bill Hickok, she and he being presented as having a contentious relationship which ultimately proves to be the façade for mutually amorous feelings. The Calamity Jane stage musical originated as an adaption for live performance of Calamity Jane, the 1953 movie musical from Warner Bros. which had starred Doris Day. First produced in 1961, the stage musical Calamity Jane features six songs not heard in the original movie: according to Jodie Prenger, star of the Calamity Jane 2014 - 15 UK tour, the songs added for the stage musical had been written for but not included in the Calamity Jane movie [1] ("Love You Dearly" had been utilized in the 1954 Doris Day musical film Lucky Me).


Adapted by Ronald Hanmer and Phil Park from the stage play by Charles K. Freeman, after the Warner Bros. film, written by James O'Hanlon

Songs by Paul Francis Webster (lyrics) and Sammy Fain (music) [2]


Deadwood City's two most famous peace officers, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickock, get involved in saving the neck of Henry Miller, the local saloon operator. It seems that "Millie" has been promoting a beautiful actress named Frances Fryer, but Frances turns out to be a boy, Francis. Millie's attempt to cover up is soon unmasked by the angry miners, and only Calamity can cool the crowd with her trusty pistols. To keep the peace, Calamity sets out for Chicago to bring back the miner's real heart-throb, Adelaide Adams. In Chicago Calamity mistakes Adelaide's maid, Katie Brown, for the actress and hauls her back to Deadwood. Onstage Katie is greeted warmly, but breaks down and confesses that she is not the famous star. Calamity once more has to restore order and persuades the audience to give Katie a chance. They do, and she wins the heart of every male in town including Calamity's dashing love hope, Lt. Danny Gilmartin. Calamity reluctantly overcomes her jealousy over losing Danny and discovers her true love for Wild Bill.

Musical numbers[edit]

Act I: * indicates a song not featured in the 1953 film

  • Overture
  • The Deadwood Stage
  • Careless With the Truth *
  • Adelaide*
  • Everyone Complains About the Weather *
  • Men! *

Act I continued: * indicates a song not featured in the 1953 film

Act II: * indicates a song not featured in the 1953 film

Production history[edit]

The world premiere production of the stage musical version of Calamity Jane ran 27 May - 17 June 1961 at the Casa Mañana in Fort Worth TX: Casa Mañana stock actress Betty O'Neill led this production,[3] touted as "the first try-out of a musical ever staged outside the East or in-the round." [4]

The play then ran from 21 June - 18 July 1961 at the Muny in St Louis with Edie Adams in the title role while Allyn Ann McLerie played Katie - which role she'd originated in the 1953 film Calamity Jane - and George Gaynes - McLerie's husband - starred as Wild Bill Hickok.[5]

On 3 – 8 July 1961 the Pittsburgh CLO (Civic Light Opera) production of Calamity Jane with Martha Raye in the title role played the Civic Arena (Pittsburgh): this production featured George Gaynes as Wild Bill and Allyn Ann McLerie, Gaynes and McLerie transferring from the Muny production to that of the Pittsburgh CLO for the duration of the latter's engagement.[7]

Carol Burnett played the title role in a Starlight Theatre (Kansas City MO) production of Calamity Jane which ran 17 – 30 July 1961.[9] Upon Burnett's being signed to an exclusive contract with CBS-TV in the summer of 1962 it was announced that she would headline a televised broadcast of Calamity Jane over the 1962-3 television season: Burnett's Calamity Jane special would in fact not air until the autumn of 1963 after being taped that summer, the time frame permitting Burnett to reprise the title role onstage in a State Fair Music Theater (Dallas) production whose two-week run commenced 24 June 1963.[10] (The Pittsburgh CLO had been invited to host Burnett's 1963 live engagement headlining Calamity Jane: however the CLO could not meet the budget).[11] On 10 July 1963 Burnett and her castmates from the Dallas stage production - including Art Lund as Wild Bill - performed Calamity Jane at CBS Studio 50 (NYC), with the play performed non-stop three times before a live audience: CBS-TV taped all three run-throughs, one of which was broadcast as Burnett's debut television special 12 November 1963.[12]

Betty Hutton see Extra Info was scheduled to lead a 1962 summer stock production of Calamity Jane but canceled beforehand due to a protracted pregnancy, and was replaced by Ginger Rogers. see Extra Info Rogers verifiably headlined three engagements of this production: at the Melody Fair in North Tonawanda NY 19–24 June 1962,[14] the Carousel Theater in Framingham MA 2–8 July 1962 , and the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford CT 25–28 July 1962.[10] The same production also played at WMT (Warwick Musical Theatre, Rhode Island) 9–14 July 1962 but Rogers' own participation is not verifiable.[15] (An early credit of Jim Bailey, who'd become a star female impersonator, was as an ensemble member in this tour of Calamity Jane.) [10]

At the time of the premiere of the stage musical of Calamity Jane it was reported that Warner Bros. was considering mounting a Broadway production of the play,[16] but US performances of the stage musical of Calamity Jane have remained essentially confined to the repertory and amateur theater scene, a Broadway production announced in 2005, utilizing a revised book by Randy Skinner who'd direct and choreograph [17] failing to materialize, although readings for this prospective production were held in New York City with C&W singer Louise Mandrell as Calamity Jane and veteran musical actor Brent Barrett as Wild Bill (Barrett had played Frank Butler opposite Reba McEntire in Annie Get Your Gun at the Marquis in 2001).[18] Louise Mandrell would eventually headline a repertory production of Calamity Jane by the Good Company Players, Featuring: Dan and Emily Pessano, Teddy Maldonado, Brian Pecheau, Tami Cowger, and Jacob Carrillo whose production ran 19 July - 16 September 2012 at Roger Rocka's Dinner Theater in Fresno:[19] Mandrell has since reprised the role in one-off performances of Calamity Jane firstly on 11 September at the Folly Theater in Kansas City MO as an event in the Arts Midwest 2015 Conference,[20] and subsequently on 11 October 2015 at the CMA Theatre as an event in the International Entertainment Buyers Association 2015 Conference.[21]

The stage musical version of Calamity Jane has enjoyed a prolific professional production history in the UK, a Sheffield Crucible production which previewed 27 July 1974 and opened 28 July 1974 being billed as "the British professional premiere of 'Calamity Jane'". The Crucible production's title role was played by future screenwriter/ novelist Lynda La Plante billed as Lynda Marchal,[22] and LaPlante/ Marchal would reprise the role in a 1974 engagement at the Belgrade Theatre (Coventry) which also featured Brenda Blethyn [23][24] and - as an ensemble member - Graham Cole.[25]

In 1979 Barbara Windsor headlined the first UK tour of Calamity Jane: after its premiere engagement at the Billingham Forum which opened 27 August 1979 this production toured for twelve weeks to conclude with a November 1979 date at the Sunderland Empire.[26][27] Windsor's co-star as Wild Bill was Eric Flynn, and Norman Vaughan was featured as Francis Fryer: at the tour's premiere engagement in Billingham the role of Henry Miller was played by Jeffrey Holland filling in for the ailing Dudley Owen who would evidently play out the remaining engagements. Toyah Willcox, while promoting her own headlining Calamity Jane tour in 2002, told Terry Grimley of the Birmingham Post: "Barbara Windsor did this show twenty years ago and it was due to go into the West End, but there were some problems with her private life." The touring production of Calamity Jane with Barbara Windsor did occasion the musical's London-area premiere, as the production played the Ashcroft Theatre (Croydon) 18–29 September 1979.[28]

Louise Gold starred in a production of Calamity Jane which played the Leicester Haymarket 22 November 1994 - 28 January 1995 with Ricco Ross as Wild Bill, while the play's premiere central London production played 9 December 1994 - 21 January 1995 at the Finborough Theatre, with Leigh McDonald in the title role.[29]

Gemma Craven starred in a production of Calamity Jane which played Sadler's Wells 21 May - 15 June 1996 [31] as the seventh engagement of an eleven engagement national tour which had launched with a 29 February - 16 March 1995 Belgrade Theatre engagement: Stephen McGann as Wild Bill and Stuart Pendred as Danny Martin were also featured in this production whose final engagement was in Newcastle.[32]

In 2002 and 2003 Toyah Willcox led a production of Calamity Jane which toured throughout Great Britain with the first leg of the tour playing nine cities, the inaugural engagement being at the Derngate Theatre (Northampton) 9 – 14 September 2002 with the ninth venue played being the Alexandra Theatre (Birmingham) whose engagement ran 11 – 16 November 2002. The second leg of the Calamity Jane tour led by Willcox had an inaugural 20–25 January 2003 engagement at the King's Theatre (Glasgow) then played fifteen subsequent engagements to conclude with a 26 June - 20 September 2003 engagement - previewed from 12 June 2003 - at the Shaftesbury Theatre in Holborn, it having been announced in April 2003 that this production of Calamity Jane would have a limited-run summer engagement at the Shaftesbury thus marking the West End debut of any production of the Calamity Jane stage musical. Interviewed at the time of the opening of Calamity Jane at the Shaftesbury, Toyah Willcox stated: "We've kind of revamped it so it's more 'West End' and we've put big dance numbers in. We've added a bit more b******t to it!" although she maintained: "Our production is not saccharine sweet, it's really very ballsy. There are no sequins in our production whatsoever!"[36] corroborating statements she'd made earlier in the tour's run as "This isn't a sequinned production. We've tried to make it gritty." [37] In a 2017 interview when asked to cite "the saddest time that shook your world", Willcox responded: "Apart from the deaths of my parents, it was the bad reviews in 2003 of the stage musical 'Calamity Jane' I was in. It had been a sell-out in the provinces so no one could understand it. It should have run and run when we got to the West End, but closed after three months."[38]

Thom Southerland directed an off-West End revival of Calamity Jane which played Upstairs at the Gatehouse 8 June 8–3 July 2010: Phyllida Crowley Smith choreographed this production which featured Katherine Eames in the title role.[39]

Jodie Prenger starred in a production of Calamity Jane whose 17 July - 6 September 2014 engagement at the Watermill Theatre (Berks) inaugurated a national tour of intended six months duration: however interest in booking this production was sufficiently high as to allow for its playing constant engagements for more than twelve months, with venues played throughout Great Britain - plus a 19 – 23 May 2015 engagement at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin - with two London-area engagements: 17–21 March 2015 at the New Wimbledon Theatre and - as the tour's final engagement - 4 – 8 August 2015 at the Richmond Theatre. This production of Calamity Jane - which co-starred Tom Lister as Wild Bill - [43] - had its 1 July 2015 matinée performance at the Curve (Leicester) recorded as a 360-degree video made available for complementary online viewing 22–24 July 2015.[44]

Comments of Nikolai Foster, director of the 2014 - 15 UK touring production of Calamity Jane
[At first] I thought it was an old potboiler of a thing. And actually the film is so beautiful & gracious & Doris Day is captured in that iconic & breathtakingly brilliant performance...[The] 2003 production with Toyah Willcox, I thought the script was not very good & didn't offer anything up that is better than the film. Then we were given permission to really look at the script to make it feel fresh & contemporary.[45]
Extended comments
To begin with when producer Jamie Wilson suggested it my heart sank, I thought it was an old potboiler of a thing. And actually the film is so beautiful & gracious and Doris Day is captured in that iconic & breathtakingly brilliant performance. So why on earth would you try & do it on stage? Having seen Ed Curtis’s 2003 production with Toyah Willcox, I thought the script was not very good & didn’t offer anything up that is better than the film. Then we were given permission to really look at the script to make it feel fresh & contemporary. Crucially we cut out all the racism, the way the indigenous Native Americans are dealt with stereotypically. It's a love story & about Calamity Jane being accepted how we view women, how women have had to assume a more masculine role to be seen as equals to their male counterparts. At the end Calamity Jane is accepted for who she is & that's quite a powerful message today." [45]
While remaining true to the essence of who she is throughout the whole play she goes on this extraordinary journey where through the people she meets & the new friends she makes...she learns to accept help & crucially to accept love...It's very exciting to take something from such a traditional period of music theatre history & give it just enough of a modern edge & just enough of a contemporary twist...Fans of 'Calamity Jane' the movie will be just as intoxicated [by] our production...The principal reason for that is of course this iconic central character... & then we're blessed with Jodie Prenger taking the title role in our production...Jodie's got all of the technical ability: that's a given but it's the star quality [such as] Doris Day had in the film & we're blessed that Jodie brings in such extraordinary generous bucketfuls to this production.[46]
Extended comments
What's extraordinary about her is that while remaining true to the essence of who she is throughout the whole play she goes on this extraordinary journey where through the people she meets & the new friends she makes on this wonderful journey she learns to accept help & crucially to accept love, & to let people into her life & she realizes she doesn't quite have to be as tough & as fiery all the time, & that actually a bit of love & a bit of fire make for a really well-rounded human being. She's an incredible woman & just a joy to be creating our version of her with Jodie...

One of the principal reasons for choosing to work on this new production of 'Calamity Jane' was that I think as a director that it appeals to young theatre-goers today but also those people who might remember it from the first time 'round still sort of get that nostalgiac kick from it so sort of mixing a bit of new with the old...

I think fans of 'Calamity Jane' the movie will be just as intoxicated & will fall in love with our production just as much, & I think the principal reason for that is of course this iconic central character & when you think of Calamity Jane as a character in history she's an incredibly rich detailed dynamic sort of leading role. Then of course when you add to that real person Doris Day & her incredible portrayal on film, & then we're blessed with Jodie Prenger taking the title role in our production I think it sort of means all of the ingredients are just coming together at the right time.

And Jodie's extraordinary because of course she has all of the modern sensibilities that are attractive to us in a leading performer but she also has a great appreciation of the past & the line[age] of those sort of incredible Broadway performances & those performers & I think on top of that Jodie's relationship with her audience & her sense of humanity, of warmth, & chutzpah & life are just intoxicating. Jodie's got all of the technical ability: that's a given but it's the star quality, that sort of thing: that spell that you can't quite quantify but of course Doris Day had in the film & we're blessed that Jodie brings in such extraordinary generous bucketfuls to this production.[46]

Jodie Prenger on the role of Calamity Jane
She ie. the historical Calamity Jane was obviously quite a gal, & there are so many stories about her, both for her & against her. Her own account of her life is, as you’d suspect, very positive & very colourful. Other people who knew her were less enthusiastic. She was certainly feisty & very gutsy. But in the end all I can do is play her as she’s been written for the show, larger than life but with a vulnerable side. And I rather like those two contrasts.[47]

The Neglected Musicals theater company of Sydney NSW premiered its production of Calamity Jane 3 August 2016 with both a matinée and an evening performance, with further performances on the three subsequent evenings: playing at the Hayes Theater in Potts Point and starring Virginia Gay, the Neglected Musicals production - conforming to that company's mandate - was a minimally rehearsed no frills script-in-hand run-through of the play.[49] which reportedly afforded the stage musical Calamity Jane its professional debut in Australia although the play has a long production history via Australian amateur troupes, having been mounted as early as 1965 by the then-amateur Brisbane Repertory with future television star Rowena Wallace in the title role: it was during the Brisbane Repertory production's 20 – 29 May 1965 run Wallace was discovered by actor Barry Creyton with a resultant audition for her breakout role in the ATN-7-produced series You Can't See 'Round Corners.[50] Virginia Gay reprised the title role in a full production of Calamity Jane running at the Hayes Theater 8 March - 1 April 2017.[51]

The earliest known theatrical credit of star mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins was in a school production of Calamity Jane at Dwr-y-Felin Comprehensive when she was a student there circa 1994, Jenkins playing the role of Katie.[52]


There is a complete recording of the entire score of Calamity Jane available, recorded for JAY Records in 1995: it includes Debbie Shapiro as Calamity Jane with Jason Howard, Tim Flavin and Susannah Fellows.[53] A "cast album" of the 1996 production of Calamity Jane starring Gemma Craven - who is in fact the sole vocalist on the album - was issued in 1996.[54]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Jones, Jan L. (2006). Renegades, Showmen & Angels: A Theatrical History of Fort Worth from 1873-2001. Fort Worth TX: Texas Christian University Press. p. 228. ISBN 978-0875653181. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ The Pittsburgh Press 2 July 1961 Fanciful Fun by Miss Raye Opens Opera p.20
  7. ^ The Pittsburgh Press 2 July 1961 page 15
  8. ^ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 4 November 1963 Despite Rickety Vehicle It Was Nice to Have Carol Burnett Back p. 47
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c
  11. ^ "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". 29 April 1963: 22. 
  12. ^ "Billboard". 75 (26). 29 July 1963: 24. 
  13. ^ The Townsman (Wellesley MA) 5 July 1962 Vivacious Ginger Rogers Stars in Calamity Jane' p. 9
  14. ^ Buffalo Courier Express 17 June 1962 p.26
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Denton Record-Chronicle". 21 May 1961: 16. 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Hallam, Julia (2005). Lynda La Plante. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-7190-6548-4. 
  23. ^,+drama+and...-a0167834144
  24. ^ "The Beamly Agency (". Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  25. ^ Graham Cole, with Nuala Giblin (2010). On the Beat: my story. Droxford Hants: Splendid Books. ISBN 978-0-9558916-5-6. 
  26. ^ a b
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ Rewriting Old Scores: Sheridan Morley finds two classic musicals that do not belong on the London stage; New Statesman (7/14/2003) Vol-132 #4646
  36. ^
  37. ^ This Is South Devon: Toyah breezes in on Bay Stage - 7th November 2002
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^ a b "It's a White Christmas for director Nikolai Foster by Rich Jevons". Retrieved 14 October 2015. 
  46. ^ a b
  47. ^ Yorkshire Post 25 January 2015 Jodie Prenger’s journey from reality TV to the West End by Phil Penfold
  48. ^
  49. ^ "Virginia Gay Cracks the Whip as Calamity Jane". Jo Litson: Scene and Heard ( Retrieved 27 June 2016. 
  50. ^ Don Storey, 'Interview with Rowena Wallace', Classic Australian Television, Oct 1994
  51. ^
  52. ^ Jenkins, Katherine (2012). Time to Say Hello (Ebook ed.). London: Orion Books. ISBN 978 1 4091 29264. 
  53. ^
  54. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Vocal score: Calamity Jane (Operetta in Two Acts) Amateur Operatic Version Warner Chappell Music Ltd (Copyright 2006 by Faber Music Ltd ISBN 0-57152792-2)
  • Libretto: Calamity Jane A Musical Western adapted by Ronald Hanmer & Phil Park from the stage play by Charles K. Freeman after the Warner Bros Film written by James O'Hanlon. Licensed to Josef Weinberger Ltd, London, by arrangement with Tams-Witmark Music Library NYC. (Copyright 1962 by Tams-Witmark Music Library, New York.)