Sweet Charity follows the adventures of ballroom hostess Charity Hope Valentine, a perpetual optimist, (Tara Callahan) who is looking for love in all the wrong people. Dumped in the first scene, Charity then has a brief star struck romance with Vittero Vidal (Brain Blattman) before meeting panic prone Oscar Lindquist (Nick Wishnazski) in an elevator at the YMCA.
The story and music bring audiences into the theatre, however, it is the ensemble dance troupe that keeps you there past intermission. Not that the acting is that bad, the actors try really hard, but the flashy dancing easily steals the show. Of the songs, “If My Friends Could See Me Now” and “Hey, Big Spender” are the only standouts — twenty minutes after the show the others prove to be forgettable.
As a choreographer Clay James is exceptional, as a director he is unfocused. His actors are all underachieving and his pace is off, evident in the dramatic scenes between songs. “The Rhythm of Life” sequence is entertaining, the dancing, singing and dancing become a blur of colors and sounds, but once again, it ends without making any lasting impression.
The lighting and sound were done very well. The stage was still in its’ “arena” format from Chekhov week earlier this year, so the set changed between scenes. Fortunately, that wasn’t nearly as often or as distracting as it was in Anton in Show Business (especially without the audience plant). Additionally, the TVs with the stylized and occasionally funny subtitles above the stage were a great idea.
The various costumes worn throughout the play were very rich and colorful. The hippie clothes from “Rhythm of Life” to the random Central Park goers all dressed lively and different were eye-catching. Ironically, the costumes for the chorus line sequence (“I’m a Brass Band”) were vastly superior to the cut up fire hoses used in the finale of last semester’s A Chorus Line.
Overall, Sweet Charity is mildly funny, has some amusing songs and impressive dance scenes. The acting is decent, and the directing lackluster. The songs are entertaining (if largely forgettable) and the dancing steals the show. Overall, one of their better shows this year.
Sweet Charity is playing on campus through April 24 at the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, 1312 Miller Drive. Shows are at 8 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday. Tickets are $8 for students.
Jonathan Twiggar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.