Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Sweet Charity, The Production Company, July 18, 2007

 Sweet Charity
Book by Neil Simon, Music by Cy Coleman, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields by The Production Company
Where and When:  State Theatre, Wed to Fri 7.30pm, Sat 2pm & 7.30pm, Sun 3pm, until July 18 to 22, 2007
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on July 18, 2007

Sweet Charity, when it was first staged on Broadway in 1966, introduced a new form of musical. 

Bob Fosse’s stylised idiosyncratic choreography was startling. Fosse’s original, darker concept, based on Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria, was about a good-hearted prostitute.  When Fosse involved Neil Simon, Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields, the story became more palatable and Sweet Charity was born.

The consummate playing of Orchestra Victoria, conducted by John Foreman does justice to Coleman’s memorable tunes including The Rhythm of Life, If My Friends Could See Me Now and the sultry Big Spender.

Ross Coleman’s inventive choreography does not replicate Fosse’s but it captures the essence of Fosse’s sexy jazz moves and variations in pace and rhythm. The Rich Man’s Frug is funky, exciting and each chorus scene is polished and exciting despite the chorus having to dance on a tiny strip of floor.

This production, directed by Nancye Hayes, lacks some of the pizzazz usually associated with Charity. Not having a full production is normal in a concert production and the short rehearsal season could account for some awkward moments and sloppy timing. However, there is some obvious miscasting that reduces the impact.

Sharon Millerchip is a cute and perky poppet playing Charity Valentine, the dance hall hostess who looks for love in all the wrong places. Millerchip is an accomplished dancer. She plays Charity with a cheeky, downmarket edge but lacks the requisite over-the-top sassy, brassy quality. Her singing is competent but she hit a few flat notes before interval.

 Matt Hetherington is delightfully kooky as Oscar Lindquist, the anxious and painfully shy tax accountant who falls in love with Charity before finding out that her day job is not in a bank. His scene trapped in the elevator with Charity is hilarious and his thrilling voice and commitment to the role raise the level of the show in the second half.

Alan Fletcher as Vittorio Vidal lacks the sensuality of an Italian movie star such as Marcello Mastroianni and often sounds strangely Transylvanian rather than Italian. Alan Brough’s voice and presence cannot carry the gutsy role of Big Daddy diminishing the impact of the crazy Rhythm of Life Church scene.

The chorus works hard but Big Spender lacks any dangerous sexuality. Nonetheless, if you love Sweet Charity, take a look at this concert show.

By Kate Herbert

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