‘Sweet Charity’ was fierce.
Tucked away in Southport, the Gold Coast Little Theatre (GCLT) was bustling with life for the opening night of ‘Sweet Charity’. The musical comedy brought audience members of all ages to watch the classic story of Charity Hope Valentine come to life.
‘Sweet Charity’ (1966) is a musical comedy based on the 1957 screenplay ‘Nights of Cabiria’; Charity Hope Valentine is a dance hostess at the Fandango Ballroom who dreams of love. Previously she was strung along in a series of bad relationships, but her hopeful outlook on life and romance has helped her through her trials and tribulations. She meets Oscar, a man Charity befriends and eventually falls for. Has she found true love at last?
With music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields, and book by Neil Simon, it was originally directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, featuring his original and sensual dance style that won ‘Sweet Charity’ the Tony Award for Best Choreography.
The GCLT boasted a broad amount of lighting equipment and effects. Lighting designer Wes Bluff used this to add flair to the dance numbers and the overall atmosphere of the show. A standout effect was during the scenes in the Fandango Ballroom; Bluff used a red wash to illuminate the stage and smoke to add to the seedy atmosphere of the ballroom. Another moment was during ‘Where am I Going?’ when Charity was seen centre stage with blue and pink lighting behind her and a white wash on her, which made Charity and her red dress pop on the stage.
It would’ve been effective to implement a follow spot or use a moving head spot more during the show, as the stage was quite dark throughout, and it was sometimes hard to see the faces of the cast.
The set was designed by director Cilla Scott and Lawrie Esmond, who managed sound, which was minimal but effective. The set featured three flats at the back of the stage, painted with an abstract depiction of New York City. These flats were also flipped around during the show to reveal a detailed elevator, a telephone and a chairlift.
Other set-pieces included throughout the show were an open closet that Charity hid in, large vanity with three mirrors illuminated by white strip lights and a red neon sign hung from the top of the stage that said, “Girls Girls Girls”.
Cilla Scott and Shirley Whitehouse designed the costumes for ‘Sweet Charity’. Scott and Whitehouse displayed their knowledge of the Fosse style and the era in which ‘Sweet Charity’ is based. The hostesses wore red dresses that changed almost every scene they were in; Scott and Whitehouse could have chosen to keep them in the same dresses the whole show, but this added freshness and variety to each scene.
Cilla Scott directed ‘Sweet Charity’ along with Hunter Wall, the Assistant to the Director. Throughout the production, Scott boasted her directorial skill, using every inch of the stage for blocking, and directing the cast to enter and exit through the audience.
Music Director Julie Whiting showcased her musical expertise through the harmonies of the main cast, which were considered with skill and precision. She managed to ensure the ensemble sounded strong and as one voice; this was a big stand out in ‘Big Spender’. Under Whiting’s conduction, the band was a great asset to the show and elevated the performance tenfold.
Paula Guild oversaw the choreography for ‘Sweet Charity’ and stepped up to the challenge. Guild brought the iconic Fosse moves to the stage and showcased her skill in “Rich Man’s Frug”. This number was a staple in the show, and Guild brought her Fosse inspired vision to life, staying true to his stylings whilst keeping it original and engaging for the audience.
Becky Morgan was Charity Hope Valentine. Morgan caught the cheekiness and charm of Charity, captivating the audience as soon as she appeared on stage. She boasted the dance skills required to pull off the role and sweet, charming vocals to complete the package.
Oscar Lindquist was played by Tony Campbell, who showed both the charming and the ugly side to Oscar. There was never a dull moment on stage, and the audience was captivated throughout all his scenes.
Jess Ng and Anastassia Muir played Nickie and Helene, Charity’s closest friends who work with her at the Fandango Ballroom. The pair complemented each other marvellously and showcased some fantastic vocal moments.
‘Sweet Charity’ boasted a large ensemble with strong vocalists and dancers. The ensemble took a bit to warm up to the audience, but there was never a dull moment afterwards. Jam Marshall was a standout and always caught the audience’s attention.
Gold Coast Little Theatre’s ‘Sweet Charity’ has brought audience members together to watch this classic musical comedy. With a strong Fosse inspiration and a stellar cast, GCLT has brought a wonderful show to the Gold Coast area.
‘Sweet Charity’ performs until Saturday, 21 May 2022. For more information and tickets, visit Gold Coast Little Theatre’s website.