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Highly Recommended ★★★★

I have always adored the comic touch of Neil Simon, and one of the great unknowns to theater patrons is that the wit and charm of “Sweet Charity” is that of this recently deceased genius. Thank God his works and words will live for years to come. This adorable musical , with a score by Cy Coleman and sparkling lyrics by Dorothy Fields ( great names in musical theater) is now on the stage at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire with a bubbly young cast of skilled actors .True musical theater-goers know that the original production was conceived, staged and choreographed by Chicago’s own Bob Fosse and under the skillful direction and choreography of Alex Sanchez, one feels that Mr. Fosse is looking down with a big grin on his face. Sanchez understands the Fosse “feel”!  

“Sweet Charity” is the story of a young optimist, one Charity Hope Valentine ( Anne Horak, who you will fall in love with) trying to find love in New York City. At the very start of the story we find Charity, who works as a dance-hall “hostess” while waiting to meet her destiny, being dumped by her “boyfriend” ( Liam Quealy, who plays a multitude of characters) and we get the true feeling that this lovely young lady is a “hopeful optimist” with very little future. What happens from this point is a series of events that change the course of her life. We meet her co-workers, led by Nickie (the very leggy Dani Spieler) and Helene ( the adorable NaTonia Monet) as we hear one of the most known songs from this show, “Big Spender”, and learn a bit about the life of a New York Dance Hall Hostess of the 1960’s.

Charity heads home and meets an Italian film star, Vittorio Vidal ( deftly handled by Adam Jacobs) who has just had a tiff with his date and so he takes her for the evening. She does end up having the evening of her life with this character and the bedroom scene is one of the highlights of the production. “If My Friends Could See Me Now”. By the way, the girlfriend, Ursula (Alexandra Palkovic is a stitch) comes back and the closet portion of the scene is hysterical. Following this eventful evening, Charity decides she must take a different path in life and so she goes to the local YMCA to take a class.

At the Y she meets Oscar Lindquist ( Alex Goodrich, an amazing character actor that Chicago is luck to own) who is far from anything she had ever hoped for. The stalled elevator scene is worth the price of the ticket on its own. Goodrich truly shines in scenes where he can panic. Even if you are not a laugh-out-loud person, this scene will get you to do so! The rest of the play is about their relationship and the love that grows between these two opposites. Their journey through love is what we continue to watch, with a smile on our face and hope in our hearts. I will not divulge any more of the story-line except to say, sit back and relax for the ride of your life!

One of the beautiful parts of this show is how important the ensemble is. From the start to finish, they change costumes and characters with great speed. I always say they are the backbone of the musical, and this solid production proves it. Terry Hamilton, Joe Bigelow, Elyse Collier, Lexis Danca, Alex Dorf, Alejandro Fonseca, Eben K. Logan, Hanah Rose Nardone, Adam Rogers, Laura Savage, Alex Smith, Kyra Sorce and Jessica Wolfrum. Great work! There is also the special appearance by Kenny Ingram as Daddy Johann Sebastian Brubeck as the entire cast does “The Rhythm of Life” number to start Act Tow ( and the true start of the relationship between Oscar and Charity! A special not on “the boys”! This is a Bob Fosse “thing”, very stylish and so Fosse. There are five dancers, in derbys and suspenders who back uo Charity and in some cases assist in the changing of the set pieces. They are Adam Rogers, Alex Smith, Alex Dorf, Alejandro Fonseca and Joe Bigelow- gentlemen, you are sheer perfection!

The orchestra, as always is conducted by Patty Garwood. The set, due to being an in-the-round theater is always limited but Scott Davis has found a way to take us from place to place , never blocking our view of the action on stage. Anthony Churchill’s video projections and Jesse Klug’s lighting are flawless. The costumes by Mieka van der Ploeg are timely and the sound ( Robert E. Gilmartin) perfect. Sally Zac's props work to complete the tech portion of the solid production.