Calamity Jane, Basingstoke Amateur Theatrical Society, Haymarket Theatre , Until November 20

A BUSTLING and busy audience in the Haymarket were treated to a lovely performance of one of MGM's most delightful musicals, with the first showing this week of BATS' Calamity Jane.

Calam is a superb choice for any amateur dramatics company and, as I expected, toes were tapping from the word go as the residents of Deadwood thronged onto the stage to wake us up with a rousing chorus of The Deadwood Stage, complete with atmospheric hollering and whooping.

Once again, BATS demonstrated the power of hard work with an ambitiously-choreographed and hugely energetic three-hour treat.

We were drawn in by reluctant lovers Calamity (Tracey Gonzato) and Wild Bill Hickcock (Rob Wilson, doing justice to the part in the week that Howard Keel died) before the comic highlight of the first half - Francis Fryer's (a well-cast Bryn Hughes) unveiling as a male.

Having always detested the insipid actress who played Katie Brown in the film, I found myself enchanted by the performance of Theresa Lunn.

It takes some kind of woman to betray Calamity, but she had enough charm and vocal ability to win us over nonetheless.

And the inevitable romantic conclusion was therefore completely and utterly satisfying, aided by lovely comic relief once again from Ian "Spud" Smith.

Songs such as Windy City, A Woman's Touch, I Can Do Without You and The Black Hills of Dakota were beautifully performed, with Secret Love finally providing Gonzato with the chance to showcase her lovely voice and escape the earlier overtly-hillbilly tactics she had employed for her characterisation of Calamity.

The shadow of Doris Day looms long, but fans of the musical and of the impressive work of BATS will be delighted by this show.

Tickets are available from the Haymarket box office on 0870 770 1088.