The musical is centered on cowgirl Calamity Jane's attempts to save her local theatre, The Golden Garter. We asked Toyah how she'd taken to life (on stage) as a cowgirl.
Have you always been interested in cowboys? "No! Not at all! I used to hate cowboy films. The one exception was the film musical of Calamity Jane, but that's because this is a story set in the Wild West but which is more about the human drama than the traditional themes of cowboys vs. Indians. Also I identified, as a child, with Calamity as an interesting, strong female character. So playing her on stage is a childhood daydream come true!"
Did you have a voice coach for the American accent? "Yes, but then we all did, not least because there are several different American accents involved — the characters don't all come from the same part of the States."
Any other coaching for the part? "Well, I had to learn to walk as if I'd been riding a horse most of my life, and also how to shoot and use a bullwhip." Isn't that very dangerous? "Technically, yes. The reason the whip makes that cracking noise is because of the speed involved: it travels faster than a bullet! But I found I had a natural talent for it, so it didn't take me all that long to learn. The stunt man who taught me is great — he's worked on the Bond films. Perhaps I could play a whip cracking villainess in the next Bond movie!"
You've played the role for some time now, on tour. Are you looking forward to bringing it into London, and will that be the end of the run? "I'm really looking forward to bringing Calamity Jane to the Shaftesbury, and although we've been on the road a long time, I'm still very much in love with the show. We're in for a summer season of 12 weeks, which'll be great, and it'll be the first time it’s been seen in London for many years. As a musical, Calamity Jane is very popular with amateur companies, but to see it as a professional production is very rare — so I hope people will take the opportunity to see us in the West End."
What about your other singing career? "I'll be at the Mean Fiddler on Tottenham Court Road on May 7, celebrating 25 years in the music business, and on May 6 I'm releasing a song, 'Velvet-lined Shell.'"
Do you have a favorite song in Calamity Jane? "I do, and it's 'Secret Love.' It's a great song to sing, it's very powerful, and emotionally — and musically — it's the pinnacle of the whole show. I love it to death!"