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Byron Shire
May 17, 2021

Interview with Award-winning director and actor Kate Foster

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Joanne Connor as Calamity, by Kate Holmes

Bangalow Theatre Company: Calamity Jane

Bangalow A&I Hall  |  October 17–26

Award-winning director and actor Kate Foster talks to Mandy Nolan about Bangalow Theatre Company’s gritty reinvention of the Hollywood classic Calamity Jane.

‘Comedy is a powerful weapon that fires right to the heart of complex issues, and Bangalow Theatre Company’s latest musical comedy Calamity Jane will do just that, with all guns blazing this October at the Bangalow A&I Hall’, said Kate the show’s director.

According to Kate, this family friendly musical cleverly handles the big contemporary themes around identity, gender, sexuality, and the masks we all wear, without banging anybody over the head.

Calamity fans won’t be disappointed, they’re going to laugh out loud, and they’ll love the larger-than-life quality of this musical, but these characters are complex, and their deep vulnerabilities will tug at your heart too.

‘For anyone who isn’t into musicals, this one’s for you, and for anyone who wishes life was a musical, Calamity Jane has it in spades,’ Kate said.

Calamity Jane stars Joanne Connor as the tough-talking Calamity Jane, and a cast of twenty motley cowboys and cross-dressers, including Mick Webb as Wild Bill Hickock, and Brian Pamphilon as the hilarious Francis Fryer.

Tell me about the character of Calamity Jane. What’s she like and how close is this depiction to the real Calamity?

We’ve tried to keep the entire show authentic to the period of 1876, and that includes Calamity. There’s no shiny Doris Day depiction of the character in this show! Our Calamity is a tough gun-slinger, who uses fast talking, and a hair trigger to keep the folks of Deadwood in line.

What was unique about her at the time?

Calamity Jane was a woman trying to survive in a lawless, male dominated world. She dressed like a man, talked like a man, rode and shot like a man. She was also famous for telling tall stories about her many achievements, none of which were ever proven. She literally wrote herself into the history books!

What is it about her character that is enduring and relevant to women today?

Calamity wears a mask that allows her to not only survive, but thrive in a man’s world. She hides her emotions, she talks tough and must constantly prove herself to gain respect from men. I don’t think all that much has changed today.

Who is playing Calamity? What does she bring to the role?

Local actor Joanne Connor is playing Calamity. Joanne is a newcomer to the Bangalow Theatre Company, and this is not only her first leading role, but it’s also the first time she has ever sung on stage! She brings a wonderful dryness, some fabulous singing and acting and bucketloads of passion and determination to the role of Calamity Jane.

How are you staging this show? Tell me about the cast.

We have a cast of 20 wonderful locals filling the stage for this show, with a few local musical-theatre stalwarts including Mick Webb as Wild Bill Hickock, Brian Pamphilon as the cross-dressing Francis Fryer, and Clem Halpin as Deadwood’s big-time businessman Henry Miller. This musical will transport you back in time to the dusty, dirty days of Deadwood City, Dakota.

What should we expect for your upcoming shows?

You can expect what Bangalow Theatre Company always delivers – larger than life musicals, directed, choreographed and produced by WOMEN – that exceed everyone’s expectations about community theatre. Yeehaw!!

Calamity Jane is showing at the Bangalow A&I Hall from October 17–26. Go to www.bangalowtheatre.com.au for tickets, dinner and show packages, and more details. Enquiries 0420 986 570

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