This amateur performance by the West Wickham Operatic Society was a rip-roaring extravaganza, with all the classic show stoppers, gags and even a few bloopers for the entertainment of the cynical.
The performance began with a grand (and admittedly rather long) introduction by the orchestra and then the show hit the ground running. A stellar performance from our whip-a-cracking, trigger happy heroine left us stunned as she effortlessly belted out the high notes, although sniggers in the crowd (dominated by my cruel sister) were less forgiving as she struggled to dismount a nevertheless impressive stage coach. A few of us had to double take when Howard Keel swaggered onto the stage – my sources tell me that this actor was in fact not Howard Keel, although I am still disbelieving – performing impressive renditions of Wild Bill Hickok’s Black Hill’s of Dakota, My Heart is Higher than a Hawk and of course, the feisty I Can Do Without You! The duet performed by the couple, Secret Love, stole the show and had hair-raising harmony. I couldn’t help but picture the two in a West End theatre, being thrown flowers and bowing before a standing audience.
Of course, if you are a keen fan of the film or a particularly avid theatre-goer, there are a few warnings I should relay. Firstly, beware the wandering accents. The Deadwood City drawl is hard to handle. Evidently. Calam and Bill do a darned fine job but, excluding Miller, the proprietor of the town’s theatre, most lose the accent amidst a bizarre menagerie of harsh intonations. A particularly epic stumble also left our star unable to end a key scene as she circled and circled two lines around each other, looking for a third that she was eventually forced to invent.
But ultimately, as someone who loves to cuddle up to this classic story, to sing along to the lively score, and to spend time with some of my favourite characters on the screen, I thoroughly enjoyed the night. The camaraderie, the fun, the jokes and the talent was all plain to see and it was awe inspiring to think that these rowdy ruffians all had 9-5 jobs between rehearsals. I take my hat off to them, and I swiftly return it, before I am scalped by Native American Indians.
Well done, West Wickham Operatic Society. Thoroughly entertaining!