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Sweet, exuberant, fun: Show Palace offers 'Sweet Charity'

Fans of Neil Simon's writing, Cy Coleman's music, Chris and Shanna Sell's fancy footwork (they did Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, among others) and quirky — some might say exasperating — heroines will want to pencil in Sweet Charity, the musical playing April 23-June 13 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre.

"We are thrilled to present this exuberant and stunningly choreographed musical to the Show Palace stage," said Matthew McGee, the theater's artistic director.

The 1966 musical was written, more or less, for the late Gwen Verdon, who was married to legendary choreographer Bob Fosse at the time. The story is slight — a New York taxi dancer who always falls for the wrong fellow — so the show depends on Simon's one-liners, several big production numbers and a triple-threat actor who can make Charity Hope Valentine lovable.

Cast in that job is Samantha McKin­non Brown, who was last seen as young Sister James in American Stage's production of the drama Doubt, and, earlier, in the Judy Garland cabaret An Evening with Friends of Dorothy.

Playing two of Charity's suitors — Vittorio, an Italian movie idol, and Oscar, her very nervous fiance — is Christopher Swan, most recently seen with McGee in American Stage's The Big Bang.

Swan has had lots of practice portraying multiple characters. In December, he did a critically lauded one-man rendition of the holiday staple It's a Wonderful Life, renamed This Wonderful Life, but incorporating the characters and dialogue from the iconic movie, also at American Stage.

Lauren Gemelli (national tour of The Drowsy Chaperone) plays Nickie, Charity's best friend at the Fan-Dango ballroom, with Ayana Wright (Busch Gardens' Katonga) as her second best friend, Helene. Thomas Mothershed (Andre in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) is her gruff boss, Herman, who brings his ladies back to reality when they dream of other ways of living.

The big numbers come fast: the seductive Big Spender, when the Fan-Dango dancers preen for prospective paying partners; the Rich Man's Frug, when Vittorio takes Charity into the tony Pompeii Club; If My Friends Could See Me Now, when Charity realizes she's actually in Vittorio's apartment; the hard-driving The Rhythm of Life at Daddy Johann Sebastian Brubeck's (Scott Daniel) church of the same name; and I'm a Brass Band, when Charity thinks she has finally landed a husband.

The cast also includes Alex Jorth, David Tanciar. Matthew Glover, Troy LaFon, John Henderson, Patricia James, Lacey Vazquez, Kristen Sweeney, Ann Ehnes, Adrienne Bergeron and Ashley Ellenburg.

Sweet Charity is directed by resident musical director Michael Ursua (Bloom in The Producers; Freddie in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; director of Thoroughly Modern Millie).

Tom Hansen is scenic and lighting designer; Angela Hoerner does costumes; Scott Daniel does wig and hair design; Susan Haldeman is production stage manager and publicist; Patricia James is dance captain; and McGee did the casting.

If you go

Sweet Charity

Where: Show Palace Dinner Theatre, 16128 U.S. 19, Hudson

When: Matinees and evenings, April 23-June 13

Tickets: Dinner and show, $46; show only, $34.95, plus tax and tip; 12 and younger, $28.45 and $23.45. Call (727) 863-7949 in west Pasco; toll-free from elsewhere, 1-888-655-7469.

Sweet, exuberant, fun: Show Palace offers 'Sweet Charity' 04/15/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 15, 2010 5:13pm]
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