Theatre Review: Sweet Charity is a triumph at Nottingham Playhouse

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What an absolute pleasure it was to see the musical Sweet Charity in all its glory onstage at Nottingham Playhouse.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to sample this much-loved show, but, on this evidence, it has lost little of its charm or effervescence in the intervening years.

For its first musical production in 12 years, Nottingham Playhouse has chosen well, and, in leading lady Rebecca Trehearn, whose career to date has seen her win an Olivier Award along the way, the show is blessed with a star performance at its heart.

First performed in 1966, Sweet Charity boasts a book by the late Neil Simon, music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields, and the talented trio’s work has stood the test of time.

Subsequently adapted into an Oscar-nominated film, Sweet Charity is a modern Broadway classic following the trials and tribulations of Charity Hope Valentine.

Working alongside her two best friends Nickie (Amy Ellen Richardson) and Helene (Carly Mercedes Dyer) as dancers in a sleazy New York bar, Charity is accustomed to being unlucky in love.

After being dumped by her latest boyfriend, Charity’s luck takes an interesting turn when she meets Oscar (Marc Elliott) in a broken-down lift. The musical comedy follows the blossoming of their budding romance and the struggles they face in a cynical world.

This musical, directed here by Bill Buckhurst, always stands or falls on the quality of the performer playing Charity and, in Rebecca Trehearn, you will see someone in total control onstage, with acting, singing and dancing of the highest quality, plus bags of charm.

The production also boasts fine sets, a tight, talented band, under the musical direction of Caroline Humphris - who all make the most of Coleman’s quirky, catchy music - plus eye-catching, sharp-edged choreography from Alistair David, all key elements that help make this a triumph for all concerned.

Among the cast, Marc Elliott’s first appearance doesn’t occur until right at the end of the first half, but as the nervy, uptight Oscar, he gives as good as he gets in his scenes with Trehearn and together they make a fine couple. You are willing their characters to make a go of it.

The big numbers - Big Spender, If My Friends Could See Me Now, The Rhythm Of Life - are as memorable as you hope they would be and Rich Man’s Frug was another standout, a near-perfect blend of music, dancing, lighting and set design.

All in all, a triumph.

Sweet Charity is on at Nottingham Playhouse until September 22. For ticket details and availability, call 0115 9419419 or go to www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk