26th March 2014
Theatre RToyal Bury St Edmunds
Type of Production
Heather Crouch & Louise Travis
Author: Julie Petrucci
Sweet Charity is a great musical that contains lots of good songs like the famous Big Spender! It also has the classic 'The Rhythm of Life' not to mention If My Friends Could See Me Now. It is a story about hope and love and reality.
Charity is a “Bridget Jones”-type character, a dance-hall hostess with a heart of gold, intense, likeable, desperate for love but always choosing the wrong man, trying to move on yet constantly returning to where she feels safe when things go pear shaped.
In a role tailor-made for her Emily Mizen gave us an excellent Charity, creating a very convincing character, played with great assurance. With her lovely voice Emily easily dealt with the variety of songs she was called upon to sing. Her timing was excellent, drawing the audience along with her, willing Charity to succeed though just knowing the inevitability of her situation.
Rachelle Curtis and Catherine Dale were excellent as Nickie and Helene, Charity’s dance hall friends. Both have incredibly good voices, lots of stage presence and they worked well together. Their duet in Act 2 Baby Dream Your Dream was lovely. I would, however, have liked to have seen more empathy with Charity from both them and the other dance hostesses – the situation they find themselves in means they need to look out for each other and I did not feel this came over as well as it could have done.
Trying to break away from the dance hall Charity bumps into one of her favourite movie stars the suave Vittorio Vidal, well played by Mike Long, arguing with his jealous girlfriend Ursula March (Claudia Harvey). When she's out of the way, Charity grabs her chance to spend an evening with Vittorio at a swanky nightclub. In this scene the choreography and skill of the dance ensemble with “Rich Man’s Frug” was first-class. Inevitably Charity ends up in Vittorio’s apartment where she sings what is probably the strongest and most energetic song in the show. If They Could See Me Now. When the jealous girlfriend turns up Charity spends the night in the wardrobe.
Once more on the search for love this time Charity finds herself trapped in an elevator with Oscar Lindquist, played to perfection by Jamie Maguire, who successfully captured the manic emotions of Oscar. He has an excellent singing voice and is a gifted comic actor. Finally, it seems that Charity has found her Prince Charming, albeit a neurotic one. Oscar drags Charity off to The Rhythm of Life Church where Rob Neal as Daddy Brubeck - the essence of cool – praises The Rhythm of Life. This number should be a showstopper - congratulations to all involved you certainly provided a showstopper with this one.
In an amusing scene in the café, Oscar proposes to Charity and the Fan-Dango Club crew give her a send-off, with Steve Chapman (Herman) grabbing his moment with I Love to Cry at Weddings. Inevitably, Charity's physical past is too much for the dippy Oscar to handle and he gives her the push - into the lake.
The lighting design by the talented Hannah Sophie Moore was excellent as were Sheena Moore’s costumes. I do however think that some of the wigs certainly looked as if they needed a bit of TLC. Although the scene changes were not as slick as usual nor the staging quite as imaginative as in the past, what scenery there was worked well. I liked the amusing idea of the scenes/comments flashed above the proscenium arch.
Under the baton of Musical Director Simon Pearce, the orchestra was outstanding and choreographers Heather Crouch and Louise Travis did an excellent job, giving the chorus some great material to work with.
Director Louise Travis once again put her golden touch on a BSEAODS production. From the warm and friendly reception on arrival to the final curtain this was a particularly enjoyable evening but one which ultimately belonged to Emily Mizen - Sweet Charity.