GROVE - When director Ray Jivoff and music director Jaime
Johns collaborate on a production, you can be assured of a
the case again at Sunset Playhouse in its rendering of
“Sweet Charity,” a musical that still has audience appeal.
the talents of playwright Neil Simon, music from Cy Coleman
and lyrics by Dorothy Fields from the original production, one
can expect no less.
a “hostess” at Fandango, a euphemistic dance hall, is
doing her best to find true love. In fact, all of the women
employed at the club are jaded with their jobs, but most have
given up on the idea of escaping the “fickle finger of
fate” that has determined their tawdry destiny. However, the
feisty, romantic Charity doesn’t give up easily. She is
determined to find a better life for herself.
failing many times to find a stable partner, Charity meets a
neurotic but decent man named Oscar when they are incarcerated
together in a stuck elevator, and before you know it, they are
headed for marriage. What evolves is not entirely predictable,
but very interesting.
reason this show that originated in 1966 is still popular
today is because we care about Charity, who is a very lovable
character, and there are many striking song and dance numbers
within the story. The signature tune, “Big Spender,”
definitely gets our attention, and we are also thrilled with
the Fosse-esque dance routines as choreographed by Reginald T.
other memorable tunes include “There’s Gotta Be Something
Better Than This,” which is nicely executed by Ashley
Levelis and Samantha Paige, and “The Rhythm of Life,” a
zesty revival-type number led by Zach Schley.
scenes between Charity, played by Katherine Duffy, and Oscar,
played by Brad Halverson, are very amusing, especially the one
in the restaurant where they sit back to back. Duffy is
charming in the leading role. She is as strong an actor as she
is a vocalist. Randall T. Anderson is another actor that must
be mentioned for his memorable creation of the Vittorio Vidal
character, a flamboyant star with a heart.
ensemble of musicians deserves acclaim for its contribution to
the whole effect. Coleman’s music is dissonant and rough and
consonant with the flavor of the dance hall.
orchestra is perched above the stage and is fun to watch, as
well as to listen to. Mary Cyrulik, Patrick Morrow, Brandon
Miller, Andrew Brinza, Jason Buchholtz, Tomas Goldsmith and
Thomas Nolan comprise the group under the able direction of
entire production has a very professional aura about it. The
set designer (not mentioned in the program) and costume
designer (Kimberly O’Callaghan) give us plenty of eye candy,
and the use of several curtains make scene changes go
smoothly, as well.
Furlan Auditorium was nearly sold out last weekend, and when
word gets out, I would imagine attendance will increase, so
reserve your seats now.
Charity” runs today through Sunday, July 26 through July 29
and Aug. 1 through Aug. 5 at the Sunset Playhouse, 800 Elm
Grove Road, Elm Grove. For show times and tickets, call
782-4430 or visit www.sunsetplayhouse.com