Legs! Legs! Legs! All shapes and sizes, all high stepping and well practiced, and all triple threats. They dance, they sing, and they act . . . for they are all in Coronado Playhouse’s production of the perennially popular Bob Fosse hit Sweet Charity. This non-stop dancing and singing show, which turns 41 on January 29th, is a vital middle-ager under Chrissy Burns’ excellent direction.
Choreographer Trevor Peringer’s dance designs are wild and, at times, zany. Director Burns’ final touches give the numbers just the right edge. Musical Director Brian Hammond adds much to the mix. The director’s design includes keeping the show at full-throttle during scene changes. At times the scene is being shifted while action progressed in front of the stagehands. Other times the drawn show curtain hides the change while the action plays on the forestage. The cast is charged. It is a pleasure to watch their enthusiasm and talent.
The songs explode across the stage from Elam’s “You Should See Yourself” and Jeri Harms and Katie Belcher’s (Nickie and Helene) and the company’s “Big Spender” to Brett Daniel’s (Vittorio Vadal) rendition of “Too Many Tomorrows” and Rob Poisner’s (Herman) outstanding “I Love To Cry At Weddings.” Ruben Mier (Oscar) solos with “Good Impression.”
It is Andria Elam’s ditzy, put-upon, never totally understood Charity that steals the show. She is there almost every minute wowing us. The opening scene in Central Park has Charity meeting her boyfriend, chatting, being ignored, and finally being shoved into the lake by him. He then runs off with her money. Elam has a couple of bouts with the lake, each time properly wet and hair askew. She is singing and dancing much of the time. Elam is a powerhouse of talent.
For pure power and pizzazz Mitchell Wayne Hills, as Daddy Johann Sebastian Brubeck with his All-Girl Rhythm Choir, and finally the whole company really rock. He is a natural who commands the stage even as it is filled with almost every cast member. Carolyn Stevenson as Ursala March is excellent.
The supporting cast of eleven all had multiple roles. Sweet Charity is a true ensemble production. They contribute to the story of Ms. Valentine. They are her friends, her benefactors. They are also nemeses from time to time.
Alas, a couple of complaints. The first is that the venue, especially with a live band, cries out for everybody to project or get lost. The lovely lead, Andria Elam, didn’t belt it out in the first act. In the second act, her lovely voice was heard throughout the hall. However, my major objection was not those on stage but those off . . . the audience. Except for some of the younger members and theatre folk in the audience, I felt that, especially in the first act, many of them were comatose. All of that talent, all those beautiful ladies and handsome men giving us a really good show . . . wake up ye of sleepy eyes.
This production of Sweet Charity is just plain fun. My complaints are minor except for tonight’s audience. The story of Ms. Valentine is both sweet and sad. We sympathize with her and want to give her a boost in the backside for being stepped-on so often. But one thing is for sure, we all love her. Thanks to Chrissy Burns, her talented cast, and her creative production team for bringing us an enjoyable evening at the theatre.
Andria Elam, Katie Belcher, Jeri Harms, Ruben Mier, Rob Poisner, Brett Daniels, Carolyn Stevenson, Mitchell Hills; Fan-Dango Hostesses: Jenna Ingrassia, Darcy Porter, Tiffany Loui, Armi Guzman, Natasha Johnson, April Wilkholm, Marisa Musgrove, Julie Graham; Featured Male Ensemble: Mitchell Hills, Kenny Ramos, Lonnie Ramirez; Band: Yoko “Kiki” Date, Blair R. Nelson, Chris Lapacik, Stefanie Schmitz
Producer Diane Musgrove, Choreographer Trevor Peringer and Chrissy Burns, AD Taryn Shumway, Tech Director David Kelso, Costumer Marie Davey, Costume Asst Katie Belcher, Wardrobe Supervisor Elizabeth Cecilia Leffler, Dance Captain Tiffany Loui, Props/PA Patty Fay, Sound Tech/PA Zach Wikholm, Spot Operator/PA Stephen Johnson
Total Rating: Three Stars
Author: Book Neil Simon, Music Cy Coleman, Lyrics Dorothy Fields
Director: Chrissy Burns, Music Director Brian Hammond
Date Reviewed: January 25, 2008
Dates: Thursday thru Sunday, January 18 to February 17, 2008
Running Time: 154 minutes with a 15-minute intermission
The Coronado Playhouse
1775 Strand Way
Coronado, CA 92118
Box Office Phone 619 435-4856