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BWW Review: SWEET CHARITY at Marriott Theatre

BWW Review: SWEET CHARITY at Marriott Theatre

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but in SWEET CHARITY, it's all in the leading lady's name. Charity Hope Valentine: the dance hall hostess who gives away her last dime to those in need, remains boundlessly optimistic no matter what life throws her way, and, above all, believes in finding love.

Neil Simon's book, based on Federico Fellini's screenplay for "Nights of Cabiria", follows Charity through a variety of mishaps in her quest for love in 1960s New York City. She has an affair with a conman who steals her money (Liam Quealy); spends a comical night in the company of an Italian film star (Adam Jacobs); and finally, falls in love with a claustrophobic tax accountant (Alex Goodrich) after becoming stuck in an elevator with him.

In the Marriott Theatre's production, Anne Horak's performance captures Charity's starry-eyed naïveté with an energetic, smiling persona that belies her difficult life experiences. Charity and her girlfriends (NaTonia Monét, Dani Spieler, and ensemble) dream of better lives than entertaining the 'big spenders' at the Fandango Ballroom. Their ambitions are modest but earnest-working as a receptionist or hat check girl, or running a gas station-and Charity seems the most unlikely to escape the dance hall after a tenure of eight years.

We catch glimpses of Charity's inner strength as she learns to stand on her own two feet, though the ending is ambiguous as to how this plays out in her future. She lives "hopefully ever after", but has anything truly changed for this unlucky woman? Of course, that's the point-keeping one's head up through life's trials-but it's a rather sobering story despite the sunny personality of the heroine.

Nevertheless, SWEET CHARITY is billed as a comedy, and there is plenty to entertain in this production. Directed and choreographed by Alex Sanchez, the ensemble displays an impressive stylistic range in the dance numbers, which evoke Bob Fosse's original choreography. Adam Jacobs, Broadway's original Aladdin, returns to the Marriott as Vittorio Vidal, the film star who literally sweeps Charity off her feet. Jacobs is hilariously pompous and, despite limited stage time, shows off his rich baritone in a solo number. Kenny Ingram also returns from Broadway (after 15 years in The Lion King) for a comedic turn as Big Daddy Brubeck, the hippie leader of the Rhythm of Life Church. In the role of Oscar Lindquist, Charity's timid accountant boyfriend, Alex Goodrich is both endearing and funny, and the situational humor of his scenes with Horak works particularly well. These individual and ensemble performances certainly keep the show in the realm of comedy, although this production does not shy away from the story's more serious themes.

SWEET CHARITY runs through October 28 at the Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, IL 60069. Tickets are available at 847-634-0200 or marriotttheatre.com.

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From This Author Emily McClanathan

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