IF you enjoyed White Christmas at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, then here comes another musical production from North Yorkshire director Nikolai Foster, with a very different American landscape.

Goodbye gleaming snow, ski resorts and slick TV studios, hello to the summer dust, dry heat, bluest skies and wild life of Deadwood, South Dakota, the Midwestern home to feisty tomboy Calamity Jane. As with Foster's winter show in Leeds, his second half is again stronger than his first, but that is always the better way round.

Forever fondly remembered for the1953 Doris Day film, this good-hearted Western musical is the story of gun-totin', hard-ridin', tough-talkin Calamity Jane, who “tried to behave like a man but couldn’t help lovin’ like a woman”.

In buckskins and britches, hands on her gun belt and quips on her lips, I'd Do Anything winner Jodie Prenger is a big hit as Calamity, again proving she can do anything in musical theatre after her roles in Oliver!, Monty Python's Spamalot and One Man, Two Guvnors. Her Dakota accent is a joy; she sure can crack a whip and a wisecrack; her livewire Calamity is as abrasive as sandpaper, and behind the brassy front of this game gal is a vulnerability that steadily seeps through. For all the professional polish, Prenger has just the right amount of spit too.

She knows how to make an entrance; she has a natural sense of fun, so important to Sammy Fain, Paul Francis Webster and Charls K Freeman's musical; and she bonds readily and amusingly with her co-stars, Tom Lister's Wild Bill Hickok and Alex Hammond's Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin. Best of all, her serenading singing of Secret Love brings out all the sudden release of emotion in that Valentine favourite.

Matthew Wright's sets and costumes evoke the Deadwood City of Summer 1876 with a nostalgic palette of colours, and it is a witty touch to cover the plush Grand Opera House curtain with a worn, faded one to transform the York theatre into the financially stricken Golden Garter theatre.

Catherine Jayes's orchestrations bring out the full, golden ripeness of such familiar songs as The Deadwood Stage, The Black Hills Of Dakota and A Woman's Touch, and while Nick Winston's ensemble choreography looks crowded in the first half, it comes alive after the interval.

Calamity Jane is a blast of a show and is played in that spirit by principals and ensemble alike, who add to the enjoyment with their actor-musician skills, playing all manner of instruments. Lister's old-fashioned leading man, Wild Bill Hickok, is a guitar slinger as much as a gun slinger, and sings Higher Than A Hawk exquisitely; Hammond's Danny is suitably smitten, and you can entirey understand why they would squabble over Phoebe Street's young maid and wannabe singer Katie Brown.

Once this Calamity Jane cracks the whip after its slow-cooking first 30 minutes, it is, as the old movie poster said, "the sky-highest, smile-widest, wild'n'wooiest musical of 'em all", and no smile is wider than Jodie Prenger's.

• Calamity Jane, Grand Opera House, York, until Saturday. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york