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Sweet Charity

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Sweet Charity
(Sweet Charity Website)

Book by Neil Simon, Music by Cy Coleman, Lyrics by Dorothy Field

Starring: Christina Applegate as Charity Hope Valentine
Featuring: Dennis O’Hare as Oscar Lindquist
Janine LaManna as Nickie
Kyra Da Costa as Helene
Ernie Sabella as Herman
Shannon Lewis as Ursula
Rhett George as Daddy Johann Sebastian Brubeck
Paul Schoeffler as Vittorio Vidal
Tyler Hanes as Charlie
Timothy Edward Smith as Policeman, Manfred, YMCA Receptionist
Corinne McFadden as Frug Dancer
Joyce Chittick, Anika Ellis, Mylinda Hull as
Daddy’s All-Girl Rhythm Choir
Todd Anderson, Bob Gaynor, Tyler Hanes,
Timothy Edward Smith as Quartet
Dylis Croman as Rosie
And the Company of Dancers/Singers
Dance Captain: Reginald Holden Jennings

Presented by Barry and Fran Weissler, Clear Channel Entertainment, and Edwin W. Schloss

Al Hirschfeld Theatre
302 West 45th Street

Directed by Walter Bobbie
Choreographed by Wayne Cilento
Scenic Design: Scott Pask
Costume Design: William Ivey Long
Lighting Design: Brian MacDevitt
Sound Design: Peter Hylenski
Hair Design: Paul Huntley
Make-up Design: Angelina Avallone
Casting: Jay Binder/Laura Stanczyk
Associate Director: Marc Bruni
Associate Choreographer: Ted Banfalvi/Corinne McFadden
Orchestrations: Don Sebesky
Music Director: Don York
Additional Musical & Vocal Arrangements: Michael Rafter
Additional Dance Arrangements: Jim Abbott
Music Coordinator: John Miller
General Manager: BJ Holt
Press: Barlow*Hartman
Production Supervisor: Arthur Siccardi
Production Stage Manager: David O’Brien
Executive Producer: Alecia Parker
For Clear Channel Entertainment: Jennifer Costello
Associate Producers: Daniel Posener/Jay Binder
In Association with: Hazel and Sam Feldman,
Allen Spivak, Harvey Weinstein

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 17, 2005

Finally, Sweet Charity, in its third incarnation, has made it back to Broadway, after a series of medical/financial/promotional delays! And, this musical revival is a winner, with the formerly injured, now hoofing, Christina Applegate, as ingénue dance hall hostess, in almost every scene, a tiny woman with a large presence, in a bright red slip of a dress that says, “Hey, Big Spender, spend a little time with me!” Ms. Applegate can sing, dance, act, charm, and make almost three hours fly by all too quickly, thanks to the help of great tunes (Coleman/Fields), a great book (Simon), great cast, great sets (Pask), great costumes (Ivey Long), great new choreography (Cilento), incredible lighting tricks (MacDevitt), and great direction (Bobbie).

Charity Hope Valentine, a sexy girl trying to make a living in a NY dance hall, replete with loyal “girlfriends” and generous men, just wants old-fashioned love and companionship, and, although her luck is down, her spirit soars, and this tireless, attractive, tenacious, paid “social escort” refuses to give up and vows to get out. Out of the dance hall, that is, in spite of the persuasive and hilarious control of the racy, rotund business owner, Herman (Ernie Sabella). Charity’s friends exude all of the adorable angst one would expect of worn-out, singing dance hostesses.

One object of Charity Hope Valentine’s desire is Vittorio Vidal (Paul Schoeffler), whose endless, red couch, modern art, and busy closet provide one of the best scenes of the show, as Vittorio’s paramour arrives by surprise, while Charity secretly drinks beer, hiding in Vittorio’s hat and jacket in the slapstick closet scene, quasi French farce. Schoeffler is magnetic, vocally talented, and always in narcissistic character. Rhett George, as “Daddy”, is another showstopper, leading “The Rhythm of Life”, a rock-gospel-swing-spiritual event with brilliant colors, flashing lights, and powerful choreography. The entire company gives a tour de force performance here.

The plot twists in a stalled elevator scene at the 92nd Street Y, and Oscar (Denis O’Hare), a phobic, neurotic accountant, begins to loosen up with the nurturing, perky, assertive Charity, long after the elevator returns to land. Their star-crossed relationship generates a dance hall bridal shower (“I Love to Cry at Weddings”), tunefully following “I’m the Bravest Individual” and a premiere song, “A Good Impression”. In fact, tune after tune still play in my head, as Cy Coleman’s/Dorothy Fields’ swinging songs have staying power and pizzazz.

More pizzazz results from Scott Pask’s fast-changing and over-sized sets, Brian MacDevitt’s sensational lighting (such as flat painting gone flashing neon), Wayne Cilento’s new choreography that springs from original Fosse, William Ivey Long’s blazing costumes, that change against the ever-present red slip dress (and occasional top hat and cane), Peter Hylenski’s wrap-around sound, so you don’t miss a lyric, the seasoned and dynamic singers, actors, dancers, and Walter Bobbie’s innovative and inspirational direction of this Tony-nominated revival (including Best Musical Revival, Best Actress in a Musical, and Best Choreography).

Kudos to Neil Simon, Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields, Walter Bobbie, and Christina Applegate. This musical revival should have a long, healthy run on Broadway.

Sweet Charity
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Sweet Charity
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Sweet Charity
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Sweet Charity
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at