“It’s a love story,” said Adam Estes, director and choreographer of the upcoming musical comedy “Sweet Charity,” presented by the Lake Dillon Theatre Company. “(‘Sweet Charity’) is the story of a girl who wanted to be loved who has never been in love with someone who equally loved her in return. We get to watch her learn from her mistakes and eventually become a better person because of it.”
“Sweet Charity,” with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields and book by the legendary Neil Simon, is the newest offering from the Lake Dillon Theatre Company. The musical first appeared on Broadway in 1966 and, since then, has enjoyed a robust production life with two Broadway revivals, a successful film and countless remounts across the country and internationally.
“Sweet Charity” is one woman’s story of searching for herself in an ironic and cynical 1960s New York. A dance hostess and hopeless optimistic, Charity Hope Valentine muddles through life looking for love and a brighter future. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, Charity learns that fantasy and reality seldom go hand in hand.
Returning to the Lake Dillon Theatre Company is Frank Sansone (“The World Goes Round,” “Xanadu”) in the role of Vittorio Vidal. Sansone joins a diverse ensemble of performers, including Kristen Piacentile as Charity, Evan Maltby as Oscar, Jimmy Bain, DeMone, William Bellamy, Justina Ercole, Diane Huber, Oyoyo Joi and Nina Waters.
A time of change
“Sweet Charity” showcases life in New York City during the 1960s.
“New York in the ’60s was exploding,” Estes said. “It was the epicenter of what would become the American melting pot. It was the beginning of women’s liberation, free love and the black power movements. All of our social norms and cultural expectations were being broken down during that time. In ‘Sweet Charity,’ we see several characters coping with those social changes. Most importantly, the show asks, ‘What is the role of women in our changing society?’”
“Sweet Charity” is at times humorous, and also at times moving, as the main character stumbles her way into hilarious circumstances and relationships. While the production usually employs a cast of 20 or more, the Lake Dillon Theatre Company presents the musical in its signature style with a scaled-down 10 performers.
“‘Sweet Charity’ is written for a cast of 20-plus people: character actors, singers and dancers,” Estes said. “We have a cast of 10 triple threats who are doing it all. And after seeing the show, you won’t even notice it was only 10 performers.”
“Sweet Charity” is the sixth production of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s 20th anniversary season, featuring nine productions that celebrate journeys of self-discovery and growth amidst a changing American landscape.
“(‘Sweet Charity’) is a classic American musical with a strong, sensitive, funny, complicated and lovable female lead character,” said Chris Alleman, Lake Dillon Theatre Company producing artistic director. “The show was initially a star vehicle for Gwen Verdon, but since then, the character of Charity has become an iconic character in American musical history.
Alleman said this show is perfect for the theater’s 20th anniversary season because it reflects an important time in American history when women did not always have the best opportunities for success.
“The show has a lot to say about relationships and values in a rapidly changing era,” he said. “It also has a hilarious book by Neil Simon and some of the best music from any musical ever written. Audiences might be surprised by all the songs they actually know, like ‘Hey Big Spender,’ ‘If My Friends Could See Me Now,’ ‘Brass Band,’ ‘Rhythm of Life’ and more.”
“This is truly one of my favorite shows of all time,” Estes said. “The music, the dancing, the story, the characters, the comedy, the drama — it all just works. For 2 1/2 hours, the audience will laugh, cry and tap their feet to the music. This show is just one of those few Broadway musicals that truly has everything.”
“Sweet Charity” opens Friday, July 11, with performances on select Tuesdays through Sundays until Friday, Aug. 17. “Sweet Charity” runs at the Lake Dillon Theatre Company in repertory with “Big River.” For more information, visit www.lakedillontheatre.org.