Last night saw the opening night of show 2 in Everyman's Festival repertoire, this time musical theatre with Neil Simon's Sweet Charity.
Set against the backdrop of 1960s New York, Sweet Charity follows the life (and many loves!) of Charity Hope Valentine (Helena-May Harrison). The girl who proclaims her religion in love, doesn't get off to the best start when her 'fiance' (aside from the minor detail he's married to another woman) turns their romantic stroll into the park into quite a 'wet' affair for Charity. Her job as a dance hall hostess doesn't fill her life with the glamour she is quite certain she deserves...or the kind of men either. Along the way Charity manages a night to remember (in not quite the right ways) with Italian movie star Vittorio Vidal (the perfectly accented, and wonderfully voiced Matt Preece) Charity doesn't give up on love however and one day on another quest for love ends up trapped in a lift with a mild-mannered accountant (Tim Reynolds) Could this be the man to change Charity's life and love? well that would be telling of course....
What is certain is that this is a fun-filled production. Filled with classic numbers including 'If my friends could see me now' 'Hey Big Spender' and 'Rhythm of Life' (which I promise will be stuck in your head for days after) all sung in fine voice by the company. The leading roles are filled brilliantly across the board giving real life and soul to Charity, her friend and suitors. In particular the 'Fandango Girls' are a joy to watch as a group, The whole ensemble is a hard-working group who all bring individual life to whichever character they're currently taking on-from onlookers in the park to the rich and famous at a Manhattan club.
The choreography is always central to a musical, and director Richard Tunley has done an excellent job with this production. By far my favourite number was the 60s club number, the ensemble in monochrome moving through not one but 3 complex dance numbers in quick succession. In the choreography he really captures the spirit of the piece and the 1960s club scene that features so prominently. The costumes and set, both designed by Anna-Marie Hainsworth give really give the piece the feel of the era also-and just like last week's Blackadder, they make the most of minimal staging creating countless scenes out of the smallest backdrops.
This is a fun filled and high quality musical production. If you haven't yet been to the Everyman Festival this one is a great production to start with. It runs until 18th July but musical offerings are always popular so book soon!
And if you can't make it to Sweet Charity, this year's Shakespeare offering 'As You Like It' follows on 22nd July-4th August.
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