Sweet Charity

Date 7th May 2016
Society Battle Amateur Theatrical Society
Venue Battle Memorial Hall
Type of Production Musical
Director Bob Murray
Musical Director Lesley Van Egmond
Choreographer Alison Adams

Report

Author: Anne Lawson

Charity Hope Valentine is ever hopeful she’ll find true love.  Meeting current boyfriend Charlie in Central Park, he steals her handbag and pushes her into the lake. Eventually rescued and back at the Fangdando Club, she tries convincing fellow dancers Charlie actually tried to save her!  Club owner Herman gets the girls back to work, propositioning men during ‘Big Spender’. Having parted with her last cent, out of the smart Pompeii Club rushes ageing film star Vittorio Vidal in pursuit of mistress Ursula.  When refusing to go back inside with him, Charity is only too willing.The dancers perform the latest craze, Rich Man’s Frug. Charity faints, finds herself in his apartment and admits she is a hostess. Impressed by her frankness he fetches her mementos.  Ursula appears and Charity is bundled into the closet. Next morning, after a seductive night with Ursula, Vittorio escorts Charity from the bedroom.  Disappointed with the outcome, best friends decide ‘There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This’. Cultural enlightenment is the key – and on the way to the class Charity is stuck in the elevator with nervous tax accountant Oscar Lindquist.  Having overcome his claustrophobia, the lights go out!  Too late for class, Oscar invites Charity to church – a hippie gathering ‘The Rhythm of Life’ church.  Another date is suggested and Oscar guesses Charity works in a bank! She lies, he kisses her hand calling her ‘Sweet Charity’. After several dates, still not confessing her real job they get trapped again, on the parachute jump at the Amusement Park.  Arranging to meet Oscar at Barney’s she admits what she does but he already knows and wants to marry her.  Elated, she packs and after a farewell party they walk in the park Oscar announces he cannot marry her, worrying about those ‘other men’.  He pushes her into the lake – arising she announces ‘did you ever have one of those days’. He runs off, but hasn’t stolen her bag.  She shrugs, reprises her opening dance, and lives hopefully ever after.

Challenging staging was overcome by Bob’s simple and effective designs created by a host of helpers. The elevator was smartly turned, particularly astute timing of bobbing heads and lighting effects. Using the height back of stage with the actor’s legs dangling plus safety bar, perfect for a stuck ferris. Using corner stage for Charity’s plunge also worked very well.  The crew moved various items through black gauze, with the exception of a bright light at the back on a couple of occasions, movement was fairly unobtrusive. 

Lesley, on keyboard, kept the orchestra up to pace, the music full of energy transferred to the performers, with both excellent solos and ensemble work. Ali’s choreography, Fosse influenced, was slick and full of vigour – from sleazy ‘Big Spender’, to a well synchronised ‘Frug’. The sound system vastly improved using KDK Sound.

Wardrobe produced seductive body clinging costumes and flower power colour - we certainly needed shades! Contrasting was Ursula’s elegance and Vittorio’s suave appearance. Amusing dirty old man and even a few flasher macs! Amazing hair styles with copious amounts of back combing, suited blond Nickie and dark Helene. Bob's amusing touches, with his characters well cast. 

Keren Keeler-Moore brought humour and emotion to the demanding Charity role in both her powerful singing and dancing. Great characters were developed by Paula Najair (Nickie) and Liz Baker (Helene). Don Young was perfectly cast as romeo Vittoria, superbly delivering ‘Too Many Tomorrows’.  Chris Eyre gave a well interpreted, heavy breathing, clearly on the edge Oscar, with Colin Adams as Herman and Rob Dyer as poetry in motion Daddy Brubeck.  Principals were supported admirably by the ensemble, and what a well behaved Alfie (the dog)!