Company: Oxted Operatic Society
is a show that consistently comes around on the amateur circuit, and yet I have
almost never found anyone who would admit to liking it - including myself. However,
this extremely lively and well-pacey production charmed me as much as I think
the show is capable of - it's certainly the best rendition I have seen.
show depends on Charity, as it follows her throughout her (mis)adventures - fortunately
Jane Maisey was truly excellent in the rôle, acting, singing and dancing superbly.
It was nice (and essential) to be able to feel sympathy towards what is too often
a brassy, brittle and irritating character.
Supporting actors were also generally
very good, led by brisk and energetic performances from Charity's two main "hostess"
friends, Nickie and Helene (Debbie Skipper and Claire Crowther). Robert Stevens
produced a faultless performance as the neurotic fiancée Oscar, and James McBride
was convincing as the seedy dance-hall owner Herman, although he could perhaps
have benefited from a little more bellow in the beginning of the show. Andrew
Claringbull as Vittorio Vidal acted well, but needed a bit more smoothness in
his appearance to be convincing - a better wig to start with. Croia Reilly as
his girlfriend Ursula was far more glamorous.
fellow hostesses were very competent as a group, and obviously enjoyed their individual
characterisations - the general air of sleaziness was very refreshing! Roc Vetriano
as Daddy Brubeck seemed to enjoy his "hippy", but could have done with more punch
in his big "Rhythm of Life" number.
Choreography by Andrea Green was extremely
lively and interesting - a shame not to see her up there, though. The band led
by Musical Director Michael Burbidge was very much together, and produced some
really "stonking" performances of the classic score - their impromptu accompaniment
of the raffle announcement gave much-appreciated enjoyment to this dreary rite.
Director Martin Patrick had obviously worked and thought very hard on this show,
and produced great pace and polished performances - an excellent result.
set by Bruce Reed was minimalist, atmospheric and generally excellent- the changes
were slickly handled by the crew, with only one or two very minor hiccups. Lighting
by Carolyn Rowley was very effective, with some nice changes in mood from scene
to scene. Sound by John Chinnock was very unobtrusive and clear. Many excellent
scenes were produced with minimal disruption to the flow of the action. Costuming
by Monica Mickels was extremely colourful and charming, although both Vittorio
Vidal and his entertainingly lugubrious "man" Manfred (Mike Tomlin) could have
been smarter. The rest of the costumes, however, were all spot on with great attention
to detail. Make-up by Nadia Thabet was also convincingly period and consistent.
The programme by James Beal both added to the period feel and informed the audience
- well designed. And yes, Julia Dallosso, I will mention your very competent front
of house photographs! Again, these enhanced the atmosphere of the show- it's nice
to see such a consistent attention to detail from the production team. All in
all, this was an extremely good show - I even enjoyed myself, which I certainly
wasn't expecting to! Well done!
Silcox NODA Rep, District 8, SE Area
CHARITY Oxted Operatic Society at the Barn Theatre 20/11/07
Operatic Society is
to be congratulated on a sell out for their first night of Sweet Charity, including
the seat that should have been reserved for your reviewer! However space was found
at the back and such was the quality of the sound that nothing was lost - although
some of the American accents were a little hard to understand.
sets had been designed by the Stage Director Bruce Reed and Michael Burbridge's
orchestra certainly punched out the music.
The production and casting was excellent
with Jane Maisey as Charity, perfect in great singing and dancing. And dancing
is the theme of this musical about hostesses at the Fan-Dango Ballroom, who can
be hired as partners and, it is hinted, for other activities as well. Charity
is one of the ten hostesses of this dance hall run by Herman (James McBride) everyone
wants to give up the awful life, but no one has the will to quit. Charity, Nickie
(Debbie Skipper) and Helene (Claire Crowther) put this over superbly with There's
Got to be Something Better than This.
For Charity, there is, when she accidentally
gets pushed over by Vittorio Vidal, a film star, during a row with his girlfriend
Ursula (Croia Reilly). She storms off, he picks up Charity, takes her into the
Pompeii Club where some gorgeous dancers put on a show and then back to his bedroom.
She asks for some tokens to show her friends, and given top hat and tails, sings
If My Friends Could See Me Now. The Butler (Mike Tomlin, super cameo role)
announces Ursula has arrived and Charity's exciting night out comes to an abrupt
Encouraged her to widen her interests, she goes to a lecture, but gets
stuck in a lift alone with Oscar. He is terrified, even more so when the lights
go out, but Charity re-assures him that they will be rescued. A fine performance
from Robert Stevens of his terror and embarrassment, with a gradual build-up of
confidence to a point where later he starts to take her out Clever representation
of lift, with sufficient illumination from his cigarette lighter to show the action.
They are all set to marry, but at the last moment the thought of all the other
men she has been with, puts him off and once more she is alone in the park with
her dance hall friends.
Simon's "Sweet Charity" is the story of a girl who does not just wear her heart
on her sleeve, but actually on her arm. The words "I love Charlie" tattooed on
her arm reveal an innocence and naiveness verging on plain stupidity. Especially
in view of her profession - a dance hall hostess at the Fan-Dango ballroom. She
believes that if she gives herself completely to a man, he should feel that same
dog-like devotion that she feels. Alas in this cynical, hard-hearted world, she
is an easy prey to her emotions.
story set in the swinging sixties starts with Charity trying to persuade her current
boyfriend to take the plunge into matrimony. Instead he helps her to take a plunge
in the lake in Central Park and steals her handbag with all her savings. And so
our ever-forgiving heroine, dampened in body if not in spirit, proceeds from incident
to incident, always getting the kick in the teeth, but forgiving her tormentors.
On the way there are many cues for such excellent numbers by Cy Coleman and Dorothy
Fields as "If My Friends Could See Me Now", "Rhythm of Life" and that show stopper
show ends as it began with Charity again being pushed into the lake by her fiancé,
his touching way of turning her down. But like a cork she bobs up again and on
noticing that she still has her handbag this time, exclaims optimistically. "Maybe
things are picking up for me!"
PEN PORTRAITS & DIALOGUE AUDITION PIECES
age 20-30. Charity is naive when to it comes to men. She wears her heart on her
sleeve and is always looking for that right fellow who is always just around the
corner, in Charity's case a long way around the corner. Charity is a Dance Hall
Hostess but not with the 'mostess'. There are great demands on the Actress who
should be able to sing, dance and act with conviction and stamina, plus she will
get wet twice during the evening. We don't ever feel sorry for her; she does that
on her own. We are there to support her and encourage her.
Page 2 "Charlie don't,
don't say a word (Speech)
Page 26 "Good
Page 28 "Up Yours!"
48 "My name is Charity Valentine………..to
50 "Oh Oscar. You're gonna be all right"
age 40-50. Vidal has a mid-European accent. He is dark with Mediterranean good
looks could be slightly greying at the temples but ever so slightly otherwise
a bottle would put the black back. He is, or more importantly has been, a popular
film movie star in B movies. He was a matinee idol on both continents. He can
still attract women and has money.
Dialogue audition pieces
26 "I'm Worried about you right this minute…………to
28 "Bottoms Up"
age 25-35. Oscar is a shy, good looking man. He is not a mother's boy, but you
would be forgiven for thinking so. He is not very assertive and is uneasy in female
company. After a chance meeting with Charity in an elevator he leans on her for
a short while. Charity in turn leans on him in the hope of leading him to the
altar. He attends evening classes to study something, anything, as you sense he
tries a different subject each week. The actor should be able to sing and move,
and have a good sense of timing when it comes to delivering the dialogue.
Page 48 "I'm all right
Page 50 "Don't leave
age 20-30. Nickie is one of the lead Dance Hall Hostesses. She has been around
for sometime and is very streetwise and experienced. She feels she is in a rut
and needs to move on; "She's not gonna spend the next forty years in the Fan-Dango
Ballroom" but she probably will. She likes to stay safe in her comfort zone. Must
be a strong dancer and singer. With Helene and Charity she has one of the best
numbers in the show 'There's got to be something better than this'.
Page 62 to page 64
age 20-30. Helene is another lead Dance Hall Hostess and close friend of Nickie's.
Perhaps a little harder, she always like to dispense advice, but again the outside
world is a dream away and, like Nickie, she believes there is another job out
there that would suit her better, even a Hat Check Girl, but will she go? I doubt
it. Must be a strong singer and dancer and be able to work well with Nickie and
Dialogue audition piece
62 to page 64
age 25-35. Ursula is a beautiful well groomed girl, petulant and demanding, with
a jealous streak. She is the current girlfriend of Vidal. They argue a lot, but
also love a lot. One senses that she is in love with his money and he with her
looks. This is a non-singing role but needs good acting to establish the character
in a short time.
Dialogue audition piece Page 34 "What's
Page 36 "Oh, Vittorio,
age 40-60. Manfred is an English butler type a faithful and discreet man servant.
Small acting part. Dialogue audition piece Page 25 to Page 26 HERMAN Playing age
40-60. Herman is the Manager of the Fan-Dango Ballroom. A cigar-chewing bit of
a rogue he rules the place with a rod of iron but really underneath he has a heart
of gold. He is demanding of the girls, keeping them working as he needs to bring
the punters and money in, but gets sentimental when ever any of 'his girls' leaves.
He has a nice song 'I like to cry at Weddings'.
Page 82 to Page 83
Playing age really does not matter. This is a lovely cameo part
and he leads one of the hit numbers from the show 'Rhythm of Life'. The actor
should be free and easy and loose in his delivery with lots of free expression
that come from being slightly the worse for having taken 'Pot'.
age does not matter. They must be able to support Daddy but not upstage him; they
have not taken as much 'Pot' as him!
talk with Music & Company Audition workshop - Production team Thursday 5th
and dance audition pieces - MD & Choreographer
10th July 19:45
Principals Audition music with the MD
Hostesses - Movement with Choreographer
Dancers - Dancing with choreographer
Charity, Nickie, Helene - Dancing with Choreographer
Rehearsal, Audition Pieces - MD Thursday 12th July 7:45
Sunday 15th July 14:30
Parts that will be
9. Daddy Brubeck
& Dancing Auditions plus recalls
17th July 19:45
4th September 19:45
on Tuesday & Thursdays as per Rehearsal schedule
Sunday 28th October, 4th November, 11th November, 18th November