Pioneer Theatre Company closes its 2013-14 season with a big musical—Sweet Charity—bringing all that was New York in the 1960s to the stage in Salt Lake City.
Sweet Charity is the story of a dance-hall girl who wants to find loves but looks for it in all the wrong places.
Originally directed and choreographed on Broadway by Bob Fosse in 1966, with book by Neil Simon, music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields, it’s a musical that’s been making headlines from the start. In 1969, the musical was adapted into the film starring Shirley MacLaine.
Sweet Charity’s popularity and familiarity are the reasons you’ll recognize at least of few of the Broadway songs (if not more) and you’ll delight in the dance numbers. The addition of the live Sweet Charity orchestra complete with trumpets and trombones brings the stage to life at Pioneer Theatre Company.
Leading cast members, starting with Nancy Lemenager as Charity Hope Valentine wow with triple-threat abilities—dancing, singing and acting equally well. Supported by Angie Schworer who plays Nickie and Natalie Hill as Helene, Charity’s fellow dance-hall coworkers kick it up throughout the performance and belt out memorable numbers such as “Big Spender” and “There’s Gotta Be Something Better.”
Male leads include John Scherer as Oscar (a role he’s been cast in four times), who handles the physical comedy of his shy accountant character deftly while Sean McDermott plays the dashing Vittorio superbly leading up to the performance of Charity’s “If My Friends Could See Me Now.”
A retro vibe opens the second act with hippies in the audience and tie dye costumes (along with drug references) and you’ll certainly never forget the leader of the Rhythm of Life Church, Daddy Brubeck played by Gerry McIntyre, who also makes a comical reappearance in the final scene.
This dark musical does not have a happy ending however. Hopeful perhaps, but happy, no.
Sweet Charity runs through May 24 with shows beginning at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with 2 p.m. Saturday matinees.
Cost of tickets are $38-$59 ($5 more on the day of the show) with discounts available for K-12 students and rush tickets.
Pioneer Memorial Theatre
300 S. 1400 East, Salt Lake City, UT
* Media review tickets were provided by Pioneer Theatre Company. Opinions are my own.