Sweet Charity Review 2008

Thursday, 21 May, 1998

The story concerns Charity, a hostess girl who works at the Fan-Dango Ballroom and is unlucky in love. However, just as she has about given up on men, she falls in love with Oscar, a man she meets while trapped in a lift. Has Charity finally found the man of her dreams or will she be disappointed again?

Sweet Charity contains some of the most famous songs in musical theatre 'Hey Big Spender', 'If My Friends Could See Me Now', 'Rhythm Of Life' and 'I'm A Brass Band', which are all performed adequately by a competent cast. However, the highlight of the show is not the songs, but the choreography. How wonderful it is to see dancing that is very different from what you normally see on stage. In the first act there is a particular dance scene 'Rich Man's Frug' with superb artistic movement and synchronisation which is executed brilliantly.

Bonnie Langford is perfect for the part of Charity with her happy and innocence face and her joyous singing and dancing. She is an all round entertainer who has matured with age. Many years ago when she was much younger I found her irritating with a squeaky voice and girlish behaviour, but she has changed considerably since then. Cornell John, as the nervous, insecure and honest Oscar, performed soundly and convincingly and there is a fine performance from Mark Wynter playing Vittorio, a famous ageing actor whom Charity idolises.

The stage design by Terry Parsons is bright and showbiz looking, and is very adaptable changing from the interior of a ballroom, to a locker room and to Vittorio's hotel room and other scenes with ease.

NICK CURTIS of THE EVENING STANDARD says "Despite the deficiencies of show and production, it's well worth spending a little time in this particular joint". BILL HAGERTY of THE NEWS OF THE WORLD says, "Ms Langford rarely convinces as the ever-optimistic dancehall hostess stuck on the flypaper of life" but says the show "looks good". THE SUNDAY TIMES says, "This is an American creation, very New York, full of fizz and wisecracks and drive and a sense of gutsy optimism".

This production could have been more solid because at times it did seem amateurish, but then the quality of productions in the West End are so great at the moment that you come to expect such high standards all the time. Nevertheless there are some good songs, a little light humour and some superb dance routines which should keep you entertained for most of its 2hr and 40 min running time.

Yes it could have been better, but it is still worth seeing.

(Darren Dalglish)

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