An oversight I know but lets start with a confession – I have never seen Sweet Charity on stage or on film. I blame having to light a rendition of Rhythm Of Life at college that left me in a cold sweat.
So it was into the dark at the Chocolate Factory for their latest sell out hit. Yes some of the songs would be familiar and Tamsin Outhwaite will always be my Nancy but the rest would be a whole new ballgame.
As is always the way it never ceases to amaze they manage to squeeze shows of this size into the shoebox that is the Menier – the band alone seems to take up most of the space – but as ever the intimacy does wonders with the staging – not only can you see the cast sweat, you are likely to get covered in it!
This 60’s musical is in many ways an American version of Cabaret – a dance hall hostess tries to make good. But while Sally Bowles may have had a darker side, Charity Hope Valentine is as the title suggests sweet. Wronged in love she sets out to meet Mr Right but how will he cope with her profession.
Tamsin Outhwaite shows her theatrical pedigree, with a note and foot perfect performance that milks both the sympathy but also knows when to hit the comic edge – her performance in If My Friends Could See Me Now is spot on and timed to precision.
It is perhaps in the big show stopper numbers that Sweet Charity works best and Big Spender turns into the demon love child of the aforementioned Cabaret and La Cage Aux Folles while Rhythm is a glorious Hair parody full of wide eyed madness.
This is once again a spot on production but one that I fear will get lost on the forthcoming transfer to the larger Haymarket – It may be controversial but I would suggest that Sweet Charity is not the ‘classic’ show it’s long history has lead us to believe and perhaps is best suited to this small scale production.