Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sweet Charity at Musical Theatre Southwest

"Sweet Charity" has everything to offer the audience, and Musical Theatre Southwest's production, with a score by Cy Coleman and book by Neil Simon, revives a piece of the '60s for audiences at the African American Performing Arts Center (AAPAC).

Charity Hope Valentine has no luck when it comes to men. But it's her charming nature and down to Earth personality that win people over, time and again, everywhere she goes. Played by Stephanie Burch, the role requires a strong actress who can sing well, and dance even better, which Stephanie delivers in plentitude.

With support from the Fan Dango dance hall girls where she works, most notably the friendship between Helene (Stevie Nichols) and Nickie (Dawn Durkin), Charity's unflagging optimism and her love for all comes through. The trio they share for "There's Got to be Something Better" allows their dynamic to shine, showcasing the women's strengths.

"Without love, life has no purpose," and so Charity finds herself falling in love...again, and again.  Playing opposite her are Bryan Daniels as Vittorio, as well as Leonard Hughes as Oscar, who is perhaps Charity's best hope at finding a love match. The variety of situations written into the script allow for comedic elements to intertwine with dramatic moments for each of the men as they interact with Charity.

Noteworthy cameo roles are also a part of this musical, with Tim Nuzum's strong performace as Daddy Brubeck, singing,"The Rhythm of Life," a hippie piece, and Brian Clifton's Herman, the gruff dance hall manager who heartfully reveals in song, "I Love to Cry at Weddings."

Major props to Robb Sisnernos, the director, for his innovative "Rowan & Martin's Laugh In" set design, which effectively handles the many roles written into the work, as well as the Fosse-inspired choreography by Larry Aguilar, which is integral to the show and delightfully appropriate to the period piece. The show runs until April 28th, and tickets can be bought online at

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