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‘Sweet Charity’ at Aurora, Sweet!

2012 August 14

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



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