The sensational spectacle that is Sweet Charity is back in Australia and as brassy as ever. Directed by Nancye Hayes, who starred in the original Sydney production in 1967, this time it is pocket rocket Sharon Millerchip who embodies the delightful Charity Hope Valentine and wowed the enraptured audience on opening night.
All elements are delivered effectively in this musical extravaganza. Millerchip and her dancehall posse are dynamite – all legs, frills and lipstick. Of course Big Spender is the stand out number, and the girls deliver an appealing combination of seductress attitude laced with a healthy dose of the old tongue in cheek. Millerchip herself is a joy to watch, nails the nasally accent and simply owns the stage.
Matt Hetherington perfectly inhabits bumbling love interest Oscar Lindquist, displaying an amazing comic talent. Alan Fletcher and Alan Brough (of television’s Neighbours and Spicks and Specks respectively) are fine, but this audience member is certainly amused by the strange tradition that accompanies this medium – that of giving top billing to actors playing characters whose total number of scenes can be counted on one hand. And while Fletcher hams it up as an Italian movie star, Brough’s accent barely manages to veer away from his native New Zealand drawl. Louise Bell and Kirsten King are awesome as the unabashed hostesses Nickie and Helene, almost stealing the show a number of times.
Choreography by Ross Coleman is a nice blend of traditional top hat and cane-style twirls and frenetic all-in routines, at times rivaling the likes of modern-day booty-shakers like Beyonce. Costumes are a rainbow of colour and sequins and set design is effective in its relative minimalism, the positioning of the orchestra on stage blending well and framing the action.
Musical director John Foreman (also known for his TV work) leads a fantastic musical bunch, and is himself a character in the story – Charity interacts with Foreman at one point, stealing his place as conductor and taking charge of the musicians.
There is a temptation to dismiss Sweet Charity as old-fashioned, after all, the themes highlighted are terribly out-dated. Charity (an unsubtly ironic name) is jilted before getting to the altar because she lacks the virginal innocence her fiancé desires in a woman. The female characters are disempowered or desperate, their lives and validity revolve around being wanted by men. But to over-analyse is to ignore the sheer joy and pure entertainment that only a musical can deliver, and in that regard Sweet Charity is the essence of fun.
The Production Company presents
Book by Neil Simon, Music By Cy Coleman, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
The State Theatre, The Arts Centre
18 - 22 July 2007
Wednesday – Saturday 7.30pm, Saturday 2pm, Sunday 3pm
$37.00 - $75.00
Ticketmaster 1300 136 166 or www.ticketmaster.com.au