Star’s whip-crack return to North

- Jodie Prenger as Calamity Jane. Photo credit Manuel Harlan (2)

- Jodie Prenger as Calamity Jane. Photo credit Manuel Harlan (2)

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Blackpool’s born and bred West End star blows back in to the North West next week to take on the title role of a classic musical.

Jodie Prenger takes the title role of Calamity Jane, a new production featuring an Oscar-nominated score.

The former Elmslie School pupil, and student of Blackpool and The Fylde College, is eagerly anticipating a return to the North, saying there’s always a “buzz” to audiences close to her hometown.

Ms Prenger was afforded a warm-up to her stint in the North West next week, as she performed the “show-stopping” Secret Love at the Manchester Theatre Awards last Friday.

“I was so nervous,” she admitted. “I still get nerves. I think the day I stop getting nerves will be the day I stop.”

Fame is yet to go to her head.

Andrew Lloyd Webber himself chose her to star as Nancy in Oliver!, after impressing in the television talent search show I’d Do Anything in 2008.

She has since played The Lady Of The Lake in the tour of comedy-musical Spamalot, and appeared in comedy play One Man, Two Guvnors.

Now, in the title role of Calamity Jane, she continues to take on roles of strong female characters.

Calamity Jane is renowned – she can outrun and outshoot any man in her town, Deadwood.

Desperate to impress, she travels to Chicago to recruit starlet Adelaide Adams for the Deadwood Stage.

But when everyone favours the new girl in town, Jane struggles to keep her jealousy and pride in check.

“I was brought up around strong women so it’s just part of my make up, it’s great to play such gutsy roles,” she said.

As much as gutsy girls, Jodie does fun to a tee, which suits for the ‘whip-cracking, sharp-shooting’ Calamity Jane.

“We have people getting up and dancing in the aisles, children dressed up as cowboys and cowgirls, it makes it really fun,” she said.

“There are songs, like Windy City or Black Hills Of Dakota, songs that even if you think you don’t know them, you do.”

It’s a musical Jodie grew up watching and one that, happily, came to her.

She said: “I go with the flow and I’ve been really lucky with roles.

“When they asked if I’d like to play it, I tried to stay cool and calm but inside I was doing a proper little dance.”

She joins Alex Hammond and Phoebe Street on stage, directed by Nikolai Foster, musical direction by Catherine Jayes and choreography by Nick Winston.

And a former favourite of Blackpool, Tom Lister, who played Captain Hook in the Grand Theatre’s panto Peter Pan in 2013, takes on the role of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane’s arch enemy who makes her realise her ‘Secret Love’.

She added: “Manchester is surreal, the minute tickets went on sale they were soaring for that venue so it gets us really excited.

“I know Manchester audiences will be great – it’s the North, people are nice aren’t they?”

Calamity Jane blows into Manchester, for one week only, at the Palace Theatre, from Tuesday March 24 to Saturday March 28 – nightly at 7.30pm with 2.30pm matinees on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

To book, visit: www.atgtickets.com/manchester or call 0844 8713018.