The Watermill, Bagnor
Until September 6
THE Watermill has definitely done it again with this sublime whip-cracking version of the popular musical.
Designer Matthew Wright’s set is a triumph, transporting audiences back in time to the 19th century and to the Golden Garter where the tale of Calam (Jodie Prenger, below, leading from the front) and co unfolds.
Instruments and props are cleverly stashed here and there, and utilised throughout with both ease and flair by the brilliant cast of ten actor-musos, perfectly directed by Nikolai Foster – watch and wonder as the piano becomes the stagecoach.
Their delivery of all of the film’s classic numbers – The Black Hills of Dakota, The Deadwood Stage and Windy City – and those of the stage show (which was written after the success of the 1953 movie), absolutely hit the mark.
In two tremendously rousing dance sequences, it is impossible to prevent yourself tapping along to the music – and you’ll wish you could jump to your feet and bellow and almighty ‘yeehah!’ so life-enhancing the energy is.
The choreography in these two sequences, one of which ends the evening, gives supporting players Martin McCarthy and Matthew James Hinchcliffe a chance to shine and is packed with such fantastic zip and fizz that you’ll be tempted to dance your way back to your car.
Tom Lister as Wild Bill
Casting is terrific across the board. The male romantic leads are spot-on; Alex Hammond’s ‘prettier’ Lt Danny is just the right foil for the man we know is Calam’s match, Wild Bill Hickok (a perfect Tom Lister, who delivers a beautifully tender Higher Than A Hawk).
Lister’s height, incidentally, really makes Calam his “half-pint buckaroo”!
Anthony Dunn as Henry Miller, Jon Bonner as Doc, Paul Kissaun as Rattlesnake, Sioned Saunders as Susan, and Matthew James Hinchcliffe as Buck add essential character colour to proceedings, whilst key violinist Christina Tedders makes an impression as Adelaid Adams.
Christina Tedders and Paul Kissaun
The very winning Phoebe Street is delightful as in the slightly troublesome role of Katie Brown (hurting Calam’s feelings, boo hiss!) and Rob Delaney brings the house down with his exuberant (when required) work as beleaguered Francis Fryer.
It’s a delight – and it's sure to be a huge success when it goes on national tour at the end of this run.
Box office: 01635 46044, watermill.org.uk.