Sweet Charity

SKY CITY Theatre, Auckland

16/11/2006 - 16/12/2006

Production Details

Book By Neil Simon, Music by Cy Coleman, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Based on an original screenplay by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano
Produced for the Broadway stage by Fryer, Carr and Harris, and conceived, staged and choreographed by Bob Fosse

New Zealand Post Season directed by Colin McColl


“So let me get right to the point, I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see…”
 – Charity Hope Valentine

A Broadway salute to ’60s New York featuring the hit musical numbers ‘Hey, Big Spender’ – ‘If My Friends Could See Me Now’ – and the funky ‘Rhythm Of Life’.

Bringing ’60s swing back to Auckland City this Christmas is the The New Zealand Post season of SWEET CHARITY at SKYCITY Theatre November 16 – December 16.

In the smash-hit musical of the year, New Zealand’s best-loved entertainer, Jackie Clarke, returns to spice up the stage as Charity Hope Valentine. Clarke joins the list of dazzling stage performers who have brought this character to life, including: Shirley MacLaine, Gwen Vernon, Christina Applegate, and most recently, Molly Ringwald.

Meet Charity Hope Valentine – an eternal optimist and the unluckiest romantic in New York City. She’s a ‘dance hall hostess’ who always gives her heart, and her earnings, to the wrong man. After flings with the stud, the film-star and the sleaze-ball, things suddenly start to look rosy when she’s stuck in an elevator with Oscar – a nerdy-but-nice neurotic.

Based on the Fellini film Nights of Cabiria, The New Zealand Post season of SWEET CHARITY is a sassy and streetwise take on the things we do for love.

“Sweet Charity, is one of the best musicals of all time and it promises to be the highlight of the year. It was written in the early sixties and encapsulates all the energy and exhilarating freedom of those times,” says Colin McColl, Auckland Theatre Company Artistic Director.

The dream team of Director Colin McColl, Musical Director John Gibson and Choreographer Shona McCullagh, take the creative helm for this wildly energetic revival.

Jackie Clarke is joined by Vincent Harder – he is back in New Zealand fresh from a two year stint in the leading role of Simba in Disney’s The Lion King, Australia’s biggest musical. Rounding out this stunning 17-strong ensemble cast are Auckland favourites: Sophia Hawthorne, Peter Daube, Cameron Rhodes, Georgia Duder and Matu Ngaropo. Providing the beat for this unforgettable experience is the live onstage band, brought together exclusively for this production and with a rhythm section lead by Chris O’Connor.

From film work which includes King Kong and Lord of the Rings, internationally acclaimed choreographer, Shona McCullagh, makes a return to the theatre for The New Zealand Post season of SWEET CHARITY – bringing her own exceptional sense of flare and vitality to all of Sweet Charity’s iconic dance numbers.

Sweet Charity’s original Broadway production was nominated for 12 Tony awards and Bob Fosse took home the trophy for Best Choreography.

Book through Ticketek 09 307 5000 or online at www.atc.co.nz or www.ticketek.co.nz


The New Zealand Post season of Sweet Charity

Jackie Clarke, Stephen Butterworth, Peter Daube, Georgia Duder, Debbie Fulford, John Gardiner, Vincent Harder, Sophia Hawthorne, Olaf John, Liz Kirk, Matu Ngaropo, Cameron Rhodes, Paora Taurima, Kathryn Taylor.

Musical Director and Arrangements: John Gibson
Choreography: Shona McCullagh
Set Design: John Parker
Costume Design: Elizabeth Whiting
Lighting Design: David Eversfield
Assistant Choreography: Megan Adams

Theatre , Musical ,

Hits and misses

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 21st Nov 2006

Sweet Charity is a feel-good story of a romantic optimist’s search for love hindered by a dead-end job as a dance hall hostess and her uncanny ability to fall for the wrong guy.

Musical theatre is a demanding genre. Its foundations – music and theatre – compete rather than complement, unless the overall direction is strong throughout. Musical theatre is also notoriously difficult to cast, as in most theatre companies, budget dictates all in the ensemble must dance, act, and sing to an equally high standard. (I have heard the term ‘triple three’ and triple threat’, a lot lately, and now fully appreciate how vital it is, and how few can deliver all with punch.) Auckland Theatre Company’s chosen few – and it is a small, extremely hard working ensemble – are an uneven mix, with not everyone successfully delivering on all three levels.

The net result is, while Auckland Theatre Company’s Sweet Charity provides a number of inventive moments from its key creatives, and some stand out performances, notably from leading lady Jackie Clarke, Colin McColl’s overall direction is a confused, patchy ride.

Even though Sweet Charity is clearly set in the 1960s, at times the assorted mix of lighting and costumes seems ahead of itself. While mirror balls were fashionable in the ’60s, the clusters of used by lighting designer David Eversfield scream 70’s disco, and Cy Coleman’s music is anything but. Elizabeth Whiting’s eclectic assortment of garments chosen for Rhythm of Life also seems ahead of its time.

Pace and flow are hit and miss throughout the night, and some transitions are ragged. While John Parker’s set pays tribute to the vastness of New York, his series of ‘sliding doors’ give the cast little perspective or depth to work with. During her solos, Clarke is often standing alone, in a big empty space. By the end of the evening, throwing her into a spotlight felt like overused compensation.

The creative collaboration of choreographer Shona McCullagh and musical director and arranger John Gibson makes for a very new, dynamic Big Spender and perky, satisfying Rich Man’s Frug, The Aloof, The Heavyweight. The deconstructed Rhythm of Life is less satisfying, as the song makes little sense when it starts in the middle, and flips around from there. While the dancing ability of the cast is varied in these numbers (and others), statuesque Sia Trokenheim is striking to watch throughout.

Despite some flaws, ATC’s final offering for 2006 is well worth going to, not least because Jackie Clarke is such a delight to watch and listen to. Predictably her infectious energy, tidy moves and goofy humour make If My Friends Could See Me Now a first half hit. By contrast, she is devastating in the second half, as she tearfully sings Where Am I Going, drenched, gutted and nearly beaten.

Sweet Charity is also a very funny, well-written musical, full of great lines and great songs. While there are talented singers included in the team to ensure melodies are in good hands (in particular the smoky yet powerful Georgia Duder), not all in the cast possess good comic timing and charisma.

Thankfully, cameo characters played by Nigel Collins, Stephen Butterworth, Olaf John and Cameron Rhodes, plus a strong performance from versatile lead man Peter Daube, ensure the evening is peppered with entertaining moments between songs. 


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