Writers’ Theatre presents SWEET CHARITY. For eight years, Charity has been a hostess at a dance hall. She has had a string of user boyfriends. Her latest one stole her savings and pushed her in the lake. Despite the sour notes in her life, Charity keeps on dancing hoping the melody changes. When a movie star pushes her down, the fickle finger of fate gives her unexpected swag. And when she gets stuck in an elevator, she finds a way out to stop dancing and start living. Has love finally saved her? Or has she rescued herself? SWEET CHARITY is scrappy, upbeat and charming.
Relative unknown, Tiffany Topol (I loved her in “Eastland”) is Charity. Topol captivates with mega spunk and impressive moves. Her upbeat and high-kicking reaction to setbacks and push-forwards makes Topol a lovable heroine. A perky Topol plays a ditzy optimist perfectly. She is the heart-on-the-sleeve of this musical. Jarrod Zimmerman (Oscar) is the funny bone. Karen Burthwright (Nickie) and James Earl Jones II (multiple roles) are the soul. And the rest of this talented cast gives it legs to dance all night. Director Michael Halberstam has created a sweet and sour musical with a whole lot of sass. Although the story itself thrusts our heroine into sour life situations, Topol radiates a continued sweetness that melts the hearts of whores, johns and audience members.
This is a musical about a dance hall. So not surprising, the singing and dancing are focal points. Musical Director Doug Peck has facilitated show-stopping numbers. “Hey Big Spender” is cheeky splendid. The salacious foursome, Burthwright, Ericka Mac, Emily Ariel Rogers and Katie Spelman, are simultaneously passionate and dispassionate. Brilliant! In “Rhythm of Life,” Jones channels an entire gospel choir and a whole lot of charisma. And then there is the dancing. At one point, Choreographer Jessica Reddish has the posh supper club moving in slinky, mod elegance. Later, she has the call girls go erotic vengeful. And Reddish gives Topol ongoing dance moves for every occasion. Topol kicks it, taps it, charlestons it throughout the entire show with tireless energy and smiling. The dancing is pretty amazing.
SWEET CHARITY is a ‘if you could see it now’, you absolutely should!
Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes includes an intermission
At Writers’ Theatre, 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe
Based on the film “Nights of Cabiria” by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano
Book by Neil Simon
Music by Cy Coleman
Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Directed by Michael Halberstam
Musical direction by Doug Peck
Tuesdays, Wednesdays at 7:30pm
Thursdays, Fridays at 8pm
Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm
Sundays at 2pm and 6pm
EXTENDED Thru April 14th
Buy Tickets at www.writerstheatre.org