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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Sweet Charity debuted with Gwen Verdon, hit the screen with Shirley MacLaine and was revived last year on Broadway with Christina Applegate, Denis O’Hare and Wayne Cilento’s new choreography. Molly Ringwald plays Charity in the touring production now at the Pantages. She’s not a belter and that’s missed, particularly in the closing anthem, but her voice has a sweetness and more strength than we knew. She’s not a dancer and that slows down the numbers she’s in, such as "There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This. " A tendency to mince along like a two-year-old which is a cliché actresses in this type of role often use should be nipped in the bud. It’s not a dazzling performance but it’s earnest (a nice quality for Charity) and plays well with Guy Adkins, who's shy earnestness personified as Oscar. He’s also very funny with a comic rubber physicality put to particularly good use in the elevator scene. He has a long neck that becomes a character trait in itself. Also outstanding were Kisha Howard as hostess Helene, whose singing and dancing chops would make a lovely Charity, and the big tenor voice of Richard Ruiz as Herman, the dance hall boss.
Charity Hope Valentine meets many men in her search for her prince, beginning with a gorgous Italian movie star, Vittorio Vidal, played with gliding unctuousness by Aaron Ramey and companioned by his beloved and counterpart, Ursula, a sexy Angel Reda. Oscar takes Charity to his "church", a soul service led by Daddy Johann Sebasian Brubeck, a black man with big hair (David Glaspie), who combines soul with jazz in a no holds barred performance.
Cilento’s choreography is sharp-angled and pugilistic. It seems less poignant and passionate than Fosse’s but it works and Scott Faris keeps Walter Bobbie’s 2005 production galloping along. William Ivey Long’s colorful costumes, majoring in coral tones against which Charity’s one red dress stands out, are a trip. Scott Pask’s scenic design has a long low 1950s feel.
It’s a pleasure to hear the wonderful score again. Even though the concept is dated, we forget Molly is Molly and feel Charity’s pain.
For a review of the Broadway revival which includes a song list go here.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide
At This Theater