Juliette Roberts reviews UCLU Musical Theatre’s production of the classic musical Sweet Charity.
Sweet Charity, often a favourite amongst musical fanatics along with the famous Big Spender, took its inspiration from Fellini’s film Nights of Cabiria. The plot development, or lack of it, is not what is relevant here, it is rather the theme that is the focus. The important message is to stay positive despite obstacles: Charity remains a happy, optimistic character who refuses to give in to her misfortunes. This message is more relevant today than ever, in a world where we see so much despair and sadness, and it gives us hope to continue fighting. UCLU Musical Theatre Society has managed to put on a performance that is at times muddled but thoroughly entertaining . The first act was unfortunately let down by a few technical issues, causing some actors to stumble on their lines and struggle to stay in sync during the dance numbers. However, Act II picked up the pace and these teething issues melted away – the way life’s worries melt away after drinking a strong gin and tonic – with the incredibly choreographed and sung number The Rhythm of Life with Abel Law centre stage as Daddy Brubeck. The second half of the performance certainly revealed the full potential of the cast.
Special praise must be given to Grace Roberts, in the lead role of Charity, whose powerful voice stunned the audience. The Italian movie star Vittorio Vidal, portrayed by Charlie Smith, added a touch of comedy while injecting some much needed confidence into Charity’s state of uncertainty. Sam Thomas was excellent in the second act playing Oscar, in a performance that matched the high standard set by Grace Roberts. The chemistry of the two on stage together really gave the second act a boost, encouraging the audience to invest themselves in the hope that Charity really has found the one for her. A special mention must also go to I love to cry at weddings, with Simon Whitaker giving a great rendition of the detestable but eventually redeemable owner of the dance hall. Pilar Martin-Hernandez and Julia Ravey were also wonderful as Charity’s best friends, giving strong duets and really capturing the audience’s attention.
The set felt cluttered at times, partly because of the position of the band (of course, there is little that can be done about this until the reopening of the Bloomsbury Theatre), but the costume design was superb and really added to the 60s vibe and the general feel of the evening. As mentioned, the show got increasingly better as it went on and the remaining performances will doubtless learn from the experiences of opening night to ensure that the show comes off without any hitches.
Featured Image: UCLU Musical Theatre society