Musicals Tonight presents Calamity Jane A Musical Western - New York City Article
Musicals Tonight presents Calamity Jane: A Musical Western
Theater Row - The Lion Theater
410 West 42nd St
Through Sunday (March 25)
Guess what’s coming into town on the Deadwood Stage? It’s a goodbye toast to Mel Miller, who has kept his specialist Broadway revival series, “Musicals Tonight,” going for 20 years and 100 productions. (“La Chaim!”) His farewell offering is Calamity Jane: A Musical Western, which, in a way that representative of the series, it’s a lesser known gem of a show - the kind that hardcore buffs like Mr. Miller know by heart and the rest of us would also love it, if only we could get to see it. Calamity Jane began life as a 1953 movie musical, which itself had a dual point of origin, both as a vehicle for mega star leading lady Doris Day and as a stepsister of the blockbuster hit Annie Get Your Gun. “Annie Oakley” and “Calamity Jane” were metaphorically kinfolk, and not only that, they were both married to the same leading man (or at least played in both film versions by Howard Keel, with a voice that’s higher than a hawk yet deeper than a well). The original film of Calamity Jane was also a hit for Doris Day, and garnered an Oscar for it’s most famous song, “Secret Love,” yet the Broadway version has been slow in arriving. More than simply a stage adaptation, the stage Calamity Jane is a full-scale two-act reboot, with a much more extensive score (by the original composers, Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster) and more fully-developed characters and plot. The musical has played all over the United Kingdom (and there’s a lovely double disc recording starring Deborah Shapiro Gravitte), but this the first chance that New Yorkers have had to see it. It’s an appropriate farewell to Mel Miller’s highly rewarding series. Whip-crack-a-way!
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)