‘Sweet Charity’ at Aurora, Sweet!
Aurora Theatre’s “Sweet Charity” is oh so sweet.
The 1960s Tony Award-winning show, best known for its hit songs “Big Spender” and “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” revolves around Charity (Rebecca Simon), who works as a dancer in barely-there lingerie at a seedy dance hall. Looking to break out of her dead-end job and find true love, she molds herself to suit men who ultimately disregard and discard her.
Aurora hits this production right with a fine 12-piece orchestra and a good cast of actors. Simon is excellent as Charity and has a wonderful singing voice, garnering her roles in Broadway National touring companies. Baritone Trent Blanton, who plays two of Charity’s love interests, also has a wonderful voice, and actor Jimi Kocini can’t be beat. He plays a bevy of wacky characters and reincarnates a character mixture of Jimmy Durante and George Burns as the dance hall owner.
Director Sean Daniels, co-founder of Atlanta’s comedy improv theater Dad’s Garage, adds a bit of silly quirkiness to the show, especially when an ensemble of onlookers quick-step in unison looking like a small army of toy soldiers. The silliness works well there but seems off-kilter in a scene where he mixes a “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” structure that features brief spurts of music in between darkness and a brief repartee between a couple. Making the show more affordable to the theater, Daniels whittles what is normally a 32-person cast down to nine players. Not only does it work, it seems almost unnecessary to have a large cast at any small theater off Broadway.
This show is a definite “go see it,” but there is one thing that leaves me wanting: great dancing. While Jen MacQueen brings original choreographer Bob Fosse’s style and flair to the dance numbers, it looks like the dancers needs hours more of practice. And passion.
Book by Neil Simon, music by Cy Coleman, and lyrics by Dorothy Fields, “Sweet Charity” runs through Sept. 2 at Aurora Theatre just outside of Atlanta in Lawrenceville.
Cast & Crew
Rebecca Simon Charity Hope Valentine
Trent Blanton Oscar Lindquist, Charlie, Marvin, Vittorio Vidal
Caroline Freedlund Nickie, Ensemble
Taryn Bryant Helene, Ensemble
Jevares C. Myrick Daddy, Ensemble
Jimi Kocina Herman, Ensemble
Loren Lott Ensemble
Jenna Edmonds Ensemble
John Markowski Ensemble
Anthony Rodriguez Producer
Sean Daniels Director
Ann-Carol Pence Music Director
Jen MacQueen Choreographer
Kathryn Pelkey Stage Manager
Sarah Rowan Assistant Director
Daniel Terry Sound Designer
Thom Beaulieu Lighting Design
John Thigpen Set Designer
Joanna Schmink Costume Design
EB Hooyer Props Design & Assistant Stage Manager
Britt Hultgren Ramroop Production Manager
James M. Helms Technical Director
Sarah Thomson Scenic Artist