The current touring production of Calamity Jane proved to be a bit of a calamity for yours truly. Many of the audience seemed to embrace the show from the off, singing and clapping away to the opening song ‘The Black Hills of Dakota’, and were obviously either fans of the Oscar winning film starring Doris Day, or fans of the winsome Jodie Prenger, the nation’s favourite Nancy in Oliver! Having seen and enjoyed the film a few months ago, I had taken advantage of a rare opportunity to see this musical on stage, having greatly enjoyed another ‘Wild West’ musical, Annie Get Your Gun, recently. However, Calamity Jane proved to be more of a disappointment.

For a start, the look of this production was too brown: the set was brown, the lighting was brown, and most of the costumes were brown. Jodie Prenger was decked out from head to toe – you guessed it – in brown. Prenger throws herself into the part with her usual enthusiasm, in what is a fairly physically demanding role, as Calamity can outrun and outshoot any man in Deadwood. She does a good job of the glorious ‘Secret Love’ number in the second half – although not enough is made of the transformation of Calamity’s quarters. They remain quite brown.

The story is slight, managing to include several instances of mistaken identity (including an early hilarious cross-dressing sequence featuring Rob Delaney as Francis Fryer). Calamity also travels to Chicago to recruit a star (Christina Tedders’ Adelaide Adams) to appear on the Deadwood stage, and mistakenly recruits her assistant, Katie Brown (Phoebe Street) who becomes a friend, and then a potential rival in love. There’s a fair dose of male prejudice too, along with a ‘who’s going to end up with who’ love story, as Calamity and Katie try to win the affections of Tom Lister’s Wild Bill Hickok and Alex Hammond’s Danny Gilmartin. And all ends happily.

There are some inventive touches in new Leicester Curve artistic director Nikolai Foster’s actor-musician production which enjoyed an initial run at the Watermill in Newbury over the summer. The idea of movement and clip-clopping of horses’ hooves is done well and there’s some sharp shooting at times too. But the whole thing comes over as a rather lacklustre affair – choreographer Nick Winston needs to drill the cast into how to really sell a show and the material, and not let the action lag. I was never quite sure whether some of the characters were sending the material up in a kind of a pastiche style or not either – panto season isn’t quite here yet after all. But with a few tweaks here and there – and a bit less brown all round – this production could shape up nicely for the rest of its mammoth UK tour (currently booking until August 2015). Maybe then it would be less of a calamity.