Left – Verity Hunt-Ballard and Martin Crewes. Cover – Verity Hunt-Ballard. Photos – Blueprint Studios
Opening the Hayes Theatre Co in Potts Point with a big bang, Sweet Charity receives a loving breathe of fresh air. A great little venue which promises to be the permanent home of all things musical and cabaret got off to a cracking start with an incredibly high-energy take of the classic musical.
From the moment you step into the theatre you are submerged in the world of the Fandango Ballroom, and some male patrons are invited on stage to select a dance hall hostess of their choice to slow-dance with, while the rest of us find our seats.
Hayes is an intimate theatre, which doesn’t limit any of the performers appearing larger than life and in complete character as they call out to potential suitors. The air is smoky and neon lights flash “girls girls girls” above the stage – highly appropriate when considering we are a hop, skip and a jump from the real deal in kings x.
The musical was incredibly well staged, with one-way mirrors rolling in and out for an interesting effect, as the cast members sung with their backs to us, revealing their faces in the mirrors along with the captivated audience in the background. This goes with thanks to director, Dean Bryant, who shows exactly how to lay out a grand musical in such a limited space.
Verity Hunt-Ballard plays Charity, and played it she did, to perfection. A sweet, innocent, dance hall hostess with charm and a booming voice. It was amazing how Hunt-Ballard’s vitality was sustained throughout the show, when almost all of the time, she remained front and centre. Everyone fell in love with her on her journey, with Charlie, Vittorio and finally, with Oscar, all played by Martin Crewes. Crewes is an amazing character actor and hardly recognisable as the characters he played before. As Oscar, he is a dorky and perhaps a little pathetic (trapped in the elevator with Charity, singing to ‘The Bravest Individual’) with superb comic timing and a hysterical, beaming face.
The musical numbers were executed with flair, featuring wonderful singer/dancer/actors, including Charity’s best friends, Nickie (Debora Krizak, who also plays Ursula) and Helene (Lisa Sontag). In Act 1, ‘Big Spender’ really set the tone and pace of the show and ‘Rich Man’s Frug’ was very clever and funny, where performers appeared, mouths running, one side covered with a one-eyed minimalist mask.
Act 2 was treated with the same audience interaction, as we were welcomed to the Rhythm of Life Church, and sat with other patrons wearing gorgeous white outfits equipped with fascinators. The band, headed by Musical Director, Andrew Worboys (also playing Herman), in clear view towards the back of stage were flawless and provided as much energy as the performers in front.
As an avid musical lover, there honestly isn’t anything to fault in Sweet Charity. It sets the bar very high for all musicals and cabarets set to play in this newly founded gem of a theatre.
Luckiest Productions & Neil Gooding Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co present
book by Neil Simon | music by Cy Coleman | lyrics by Dorothy Fields | based on the screenplay by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Plaiano
Directed by Dean Bryant
Venue: Hayes Theatre Co | 19 Greenknowe Avenue, Potts Point
Dates: February 7 – March 9, 2014
Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & Sunday at 5pm
Tickets: $49 – $42