Marathon charity is so sweet

A MUCH loved and often produced musical, Sweet Charity is one of the best known shows on the circuit.Telling the story of Charity Hope Valentine, a naïve, but optimistic woman who dreams of escaping her life as a dancehall hostess and finally settling down with Mr Right.

Sweet Charity

New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until Saturday.

A MUCH loved and often produced musical, Sweet Charity is one of the best known shows on the circuit.

Telling the story of Charity Hope Valentine, a naïve, but optimistic woman who dreams of escaping her life as a dancehall hostess and finally settling down with Mr Right.

Lurching from one disastrous romance to the next, it looks as though Charity will never find the love she is looking for.

This current production marks both a return to the show and the theatre that marked their performance debut for Appeal Theatre Group.

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Tackling such a well known show is always a choice that brings mixed blessings - people know and love its famous musical numbers, such as Big Spender, but they also have expectations of how a good production should be.

Appeal's show sees a cast of regulars from Ipswich's busy amateur dramatics scene take a number of lead roles, with Jan Needle playing the part of Charity.

As Charity, Needle's performance strengthened as the show developed and with the first few scenes under her belt was clearly in her stride, belting out the musical numbers with aplomb and embracing Charity's ditzy, if a little world weary, character.

Good comedy moments came from Charity's meeting with famous actor Vittorio Vidal, played by Duncan Broatch, and the pair became a great double act.

Support came strongly from Sam Horsfield and Cath Steel, with Horsfield being particularly impressive, despite taking on the role of Nickie at short notice.

Chorus numbers were strongly performed, with an impressive orchestra leading the way.

At times, the show lacked pace and it felt like whole scenes could have been cut and never missed, which may have prevented it over-running by 45 minutes. It was certainly a marathon performance - and Appeal clearly give you your money's worth, but I hope that as the run continues the speed will pick up.

But late nights aside, Sweet Charity is without doubt a classic and it's worth a visit before it closes on Saturday.

HELEN JOHNS

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