Loreto College - Coleraine, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland
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Adelaide Adams with the Four Johnnys from the Junior Boys' Chorus - View Full Size Image
Adelaide Adams with the Four Johnnys from the Junior Boys' Chorus
Doc, Barman and Rattlesnake with Chorus members - View Full Size Image
Doc, Barman and Rattlesnake with Chorus members
Calamity Jane with members of the Senior Chorus - View Full Size Image
Calamity Jane with members of the Senior Chorus
Members of the Junior Chorus - View Full Size Image
Members of the Junior Chorus
The Company take their final curtain call - View Full Size Image
The Company take their final curtain call

Capacity audiences were treated to a superb production of the well-known musical, “Calamity Jane” at Loreto College Coleraine last week.

A cast of a magnificent 118 delighted the audiences with a lively spectacle of song, dance and drama throughout the musical’s four-night run in the College Hall.  Directed by Mrs Oonah McEwan and Musical Director Mr Howard Gillespie, the show was one of the most ambitious productions staged at Loreto College to date, in a long and distinguished musical history, necessitating the customised extending of the stage and generating a huge amount of interest and excitement throughout the College and its wider community. 

A story of laughter, friendship, love and mistaken identity, “Calamity Jane” proved a popular choice among both audience and cast.  Performing with evident enjoyment, the Junior and Senior choruses gave great energy to every performance, their tuneful singing matching their stylish execution of the show’s choreography.  This was a story of cowboys and their brightly-smiling girlfriends, and just one, very peaceable Red Indian. 

Among the solo parts, there was much talent to admire.  Several leading chorus members distinguished themselves with impressive solo character parts, including Claire Beatty, Kevin O’Kane, James Shannon and a chorus-line of very impressive dancers.  Anna Maguire added sparkle and charm to the role of Susan, the barmaid, while Shane McLaughlin showed faultless comic timing and a superb sense of farce to the role of Henry Miller, owner of the Deadwood Tavern.  Playing the part of aspiring actor Francis Fryer on alternate nights, Patrick Tunney and John Dowds each combined comedy, pathos and excellent vocal skills.  As the Lieutenant, meanwhile, Joe Diamond cut a distinguished, distinctive and compelling figure.  Again alternating the role of Katie Brown, both Elizabeth Lane and Megan McGonigle held the attention in the conventional style of the romantic heroine: both performances added a delightful humour and lightness of touch to a convincing portrayal of the maid who emerges from the shadows to take her place in the limelight.  Katie Brown begins as the maid to Adelaide Adams, the pin-up singer: Therese Tunney played this role with great elegance and charm, and a delightful awareness of the contemporary style of her character.  As Wild Bill Hickock, Patrick Kelly had an impressive stage presence for such a young actor.  This was an assured, intelligent performance, showing the development of the character – not to mention a singing voice to delight even the hardest-hearted audience member.  Finally to the leading lady: as Calamity Jane herself, Mary McCrory was a bundle of energy, appearing in almost every scene.  Mary’s performance showed the development in Calamity from tomboy to vulnerable girl to a bride in cowboy boots: her convincing character portrayal, the range of her singing and her faultless comic timing ensured her the loudest ovation of the night from every evening’s audience.

This was a production to be proud of for the actors and directors of Loreto College, offering something for everyone in the audience: laughter, tears, the set pieces of rousing choruses, romance, confusion, and the spectacle of a stage packed with an impressive number of brightly-costumed singers.    Congratulations are due to everyone involved – especially to the directors and their dedicated team of stage managers, props managers, costumers, make-up artists, instrumentalists, prompters, sound technicians and other behind-the-scenes helpers – on a wonderful week’s theatre at Loreto.