Sweet Charity runs until July 6 at Clarence St Theatre, Hamilton. Director: David Sidwell.Musical Director: Nick Braae. Co-choreographers: Sonja McGirr-Garrett and Alexis Holmes. Reviewed by Yvonne Milroy
Did you ever have one of those days? Charity Hope Valentine has those days regularly.
A hopeless romantic full of optimism, naive Charity goes from one dreadful boyfriend to the next. Her friends at the Fandango Ballroom are constantly hearing her tales of woe and do their best to console her. Eventually Charity meets Oscar and the musical follows their relationship.
Kira Josephson as Charity produced a masterclass in stage craft and stamina. Her vocal and dance training was evident, and she brought the house down with her performance of If They Could See Me Now, a high energy Broadway style routine complete with skilful tap dancing. Josephson's precision in every facet of her performance was astounding.
Courteney Mayall's exceptional New Jersey accent as Nickie alongside Michaela Gilling's sultry Helene was a match made in duet heaven. K M Adams once again delivered the goods, this time as a Vittorio's dramatic mistress Ursula.
The diverse male roles gave the opportunity for many to shine including Scot Hall as the neurotic Oscar Lindquist, Alex Pelham-Waerea as convincing Italian movie star Vittoria Vidal, Tim Pollock as sleazy Fandango owner Herman, and Kyle Chuen as the groovy Daddy Brubeck.
Costume designers Rose Sidwell and Brydie Senior created a huge array of costumes for the differing characters. The clever use of incredibly varied wigs gave the impression there was a cast in excess of 50, such was the transformation between each scene. The crew backstage must have been working overtime to complete such seamless quick changes head to toe for the many personas.
John Harding's Mondrian set design was a stroke of genius that transformed effortlessly between the variety of scenes that needed to be conveyed. Lighting designer Aaron Chesham's skill in producing atmospheric conditions from the seedy Fandango Ballroom to the pristine ambience of Vittorio's apartment and then to breezy outdoor scenes by way of deft colour usage and projection was spectacular.
Sweet Charity is a Fosse show. There was a taste of other dance genres including classical ballet, tap and jazz, but the overriding choreography was distinctly Fosse.
Sonja McGirr-Garrett and Alexis Holmes drew the best from the entire cast and the highlights were Big Spender, Rich Man's Frug, and I'm A Brass Band. The ensemble moved in such tight unison that it appeared as though they had rehearsed together for a year.
Nick Braae, resplendent in a tailcoat, conducted his band from centre stage. Set on tiers, the band often became part of the action and even had some costume changes much to the delight of the audience. The brass section was big and ballsy, and Braae's entire band had the perfect fusion of talent and chutzpah.
Sweet Charity was pure Sidwell. No stone was left unturned in producing a vibrant, engaging and thoroughly entertaining night at the theatre.
Sweet Charity was filled with the humour, magic and professionalism we have come to expect from a Sidwell-directed production. One can only wonder at the extensive theatrical knowledge the entirety of Hamilton Operatic Society cast and crew must garner from spending months under his tutelage during rehearsals.
Every Sidwell production has its own charm and he masterfully transported the entire audience to a different time and place.
Sweet Charity is a laugh-out-loud, toe-tapping romp through 1960s New York that shouldn't be missed. Sweet Charity runs until July 6 at Clarence St Theatre. Tickets available at Ticketek