book by Neil Simon music by Cy Coleman lyrics by Dorothy Fields.
Theatre Royal Haymarket SW1Y 4HY To 8 January 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed and Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.
TICKETS: 0845 481 1870.
Review: Geoff Ambler 10 May.
The Factory shares their sweetest Charity with the Haymarket.
Sweet Charity arrives in the Haymarket after a sell-out run at Southwark’s Menier. Another in their long run of West End musical transfers, this sixties Bob Fosse-driven creation is bursting with powerful music and scintillating choreography. But there is much more to this love story. Compelling characters populate a book filled with hope. However, it is hope tempered with fistfuls of cynicism in lives filled with sadness, all camouflaged under make-up, bright colours, upbeat songs and boundless sixties energy.
Matthew White’s production arrives with a brief glimpse into the lives of the jaded hostesses, dead behind their eyes, selling their time in a seedy dancehall, resigned to dancing for money until their looks fade. Then the eternally hopeful Charity is catapulted onto the stage and into our lives. Charity is the dreamer; she hasn’t given up yet, is still trying to find a man to love her. Someone who’ll give more than he takes eventually arrives in the form of Oscar Lindquist and together they embark on a relationship that could save them both.
Being a show intrinsically intertwined with Fosse, current choreographer Stephen Mear gets ample opportunity to exhibit both his and the ensemble’s magnificence. Josefina Gabrielle and Tiffany Graves deliver outstanding heartfelt and comic performances as Nickie and Helene, aging dancers, who affectionately mock Charity’s tales but who once shared the same dreams before real life took over. Their ‘Baby Dream Your Dream’ is particularly poignant as they consider what could have been.
Tamzin Outhwaite as Charity and Mark Umbers as her lovers are quite sublime. There is chemistry all over the stage as they sing and dash and laugh through their lives. Outhwaite in particular never stops delighting; her Charity radiates love, yet always with an undercurrent of sadness. She has probably read to the end of the script. Sweet Charity has an ending that had to be changed in the movie version; Theatregoers, it seems, are made of stronger stuff.
Wonderful numbers like ‘Big Spender’, ‘Something Better Than This’, ‘Rhythm of Life’ and ‘I Like To Cry At Weddings’ indulge the audience with an abundance of delights. Then ‘Where Am I Going’ and ‘Baby Dream Your Dream’ stir the soul. And don’t get me started on ‘If My Friends Could See Me Now’ – a performance deserving an ovation all of its own.
Charity Hope Valentine: Tamzin Outhwaite .
Nickie/Ursula: Josefina Gabrielle.
Helene: Tiffany Graves.
Carmen: Annalisa Rossi.
Suzanne/Rosie: Alexis Owen-Hobbs.
Frenchy/Daddy’s Assistant: Rachael Archer.
Loretta/Frug Girl: Ebony Molina.
Herman: Jack Edwards.
Charlie/Vittorio Vidal/Oscar Lindquist: Mark Umbers.
Daddy Bruebeck: Paul J Medford.
Daddy’s Assistant: Zak Nemorin.
Cop: Jez Unwin.
Manfred: Kenneth Avery-Clark.
Young Man: Richard Roe.
Swings: Matthew Barrow, Joanna Goodwin, Richard Jones, Gemma Maclean, Laura Scott.
Director: Matthew White.
Designer: Tim Shortall.
Costume: Matthew Wright.
Lighting: David Howe.
Sound: Gareth Owen.
Musical Supervisor & Director: Nigel Lilley.
Choreographer: Stephen Mear.