Molly Ringwald and Guy Adkins in "Sweet Charity"
I’m really recommending this show, but let me get some slight criticisms out of the way first.
If you ask fans of musicals what’s the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the words “Sweet Charity,” I bet that the majority of them would answer, “ Bob Fosse.” And, I’m guessing, accompany it with a pelvic thrust. So, my question is, why would anyone ever mount a production without a dancer in the lead? That’s like casting a martial arts film starring ME--it just doesn’t make sense. (Unless they need a chatty heroine who can’t fight.) (If I see this plot in a Steven Spielberg film, I’m suing because his mom, Leah Adler, restaurateur extraordinaire, admits she’s a fan of mine.)
But that’s what’s happening at the Pantages. It’s a fun enough show, despite that glitch, and one that I think is hard to mess up. But what genius envisioned Molly Ringwald doing Fosse??? To her credit, she’s still an excellent actress, looks pretty good, and sings moderately well, at least most of the time. (Her last few notes on opening night were brutal, though.) And she got all the steps right.
But there’s a tremendous difference between doing the steps and dancing. As a former dancer, and Fosse aficionado, this was very frustrating to me. With so many triple threats out there (dancer, singer, actor), I don’t get the casting of Charity with a non-dancer, no matter how much film success she’s had. The poor choreographer, Wayne Cilento, had to dumb-down all the numbers she was in. The ones with just the dancers were great. Love seeing that kind of movement. And the 60s always make for colorful visuals.
This production isn’t bad at all, just frustrating where dance is concerned. The sets are simple, yet perfect. Guy Adkins, as Charity’s new love interest, is especially entertaining. On opening night, his mike seemed to be turned down when he was singing, though. Vocals aren’t his strong suit, but it would have been nice to hear the words.
“Sweet Charity” is one of those musicals everyone should see at least once. This production is here now, so I say go for it. Then if you’re craving authentic Fosse, rent the movie and watch Shirley MacLaine isolate.
“Sweet Charity” running through October 22
Pantages Theatre 6233 Hollywood Blvd. 213-365-3500
(The review of the opening night party is on the restaurant page.)
Kirsten Chandler, Julie Dixon Jackson, Kim Huber and Bets Malone star in
"THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES" - photo by Michael Lamont.
Music from the 50s and 60s seems to be all the rage nowadays. (See the above review and the one of “Beehive” from two weeks ago, in my archives to the right.) Those eras appear to be so carefree and fun, especially compared to the world today. So, it’s always good to re-visit them, especially in colorful musicals.
This one is an original story, with famous songs from back in the day. The plot-line is that four girlfriends sing at their high school prom in 1958 in the first act, and reunite ten years later in the second. The story itself is thin, but entertaining enough to be the glue that connects the songs. The second act makes clever use of the lyrics.
All four ladies have excellent voices. The opening night audience seemed to have a really great time. The show was pretty entertaining, and by now, you all know how I love easy, pain-free shows, where you don’t have to think and can just enjoy yourself. This show is that.
And I love this theater. I didn’t even know it was there! It’s like a secret portal to entertainment, housed in a complex. I’m not kidding. And the designers even made their little private lobby visually interesting. It looked like a high school hallway decorated for prom night, which put everyone in a festive mood. And the modest, clever set and costumes made good use of my favorite, mouth-watering colors, which you won’t know what they are until you see the show for yourself. As I’m writing this, I realize that the whole experience is like playing with Barbie dolls that sing. And how can that ever miss?
The Marvelous Wonderettes
running through November 26
El Portal Forum Theatre
5269 Lankershim Blvd. NoHo