The Barn Theatre,
25 Bluehouse Lane, Oxted, Surrey
RH8 0AA.

Tel: 01959 561811
Email: barntheatre



Sweet Charity

by Neil Simon


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Show: Sweet Charity
Oxted Operatic Society
23rd November 2007

This 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.
The 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.
Charity's 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.
The 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!

Joanna Silcox NODA Rep, District 8, SE Area


SWEET CHARITY Oxted Operatic Society at the Barn Theatre 20/11/07

Oxted 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.
Wonderful 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 end.
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.

Derrick Graham


Neil 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.

The 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 "Big Spender".

The 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!"


Playing 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.
   Dialogue audition pieces
      Page 2 "Charlie don't, don't say a word (Speech)
      Page 26 "Good Night Manny…………to
      Page 28 "Up Yours!"
      Page 48 "My name is Charity Valentine………
      Page 50 "Oh Oscar. You're gonna be all right"

Playing 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
      Page 26 "I'm Worried about you right this minute…………to
      Page 28 "Bottoms Up"

Playing 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.
   Dialogue audition pieces
      Page 48 "I'm all right you understand……….to
      Page 50 "Don't leave me."

Playing 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'.
   Dialogue audition piece
      Page 62 to page 64

Playing 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 Charity.
   Dialogue audition piece
      Page 62 to page 64

Playing 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 going on?
      Page 36 "Oh, Vittorio, Vittorio."

Playing 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'.
   Dialogue audition piece
      Page 82 to Page 83

Daddy Brubeck
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'.
   Dialogue audition piece
      Page 59

Again age does not matter. They must be able to support Daddy but not upstage him; they have not taken as much 'Pot' as him!
   Dialogue audition piece
      Page 59


Show talk with Music & Company Audition workshop - Production team Thursday 5th July 19:45

Music and dance audition pieces - MD & Choreographer
Tuesday 10th July 19:45
   Principals Audition music with the MD
1. Hostesses - Movement with Choreographer
      2. Dancers - Dancing with choreographer
      3. Charity, Nickie, Helene - Dancing with Choreographer

Music Rehearsal, Audition Pieces - MD Thursday 12th July 7:45

Principal Auditions
Sunday 15th July 14:30
   Parts that will be auditioned
      1. Charity
      2. Helene
      3. Nickie
      4. Herman
      5. Ursala
      6. Vidal
      7. Manfred
      8. Oscar
      9. Daddy Brubeck
     10. Assistants

Hostess & Dancing Auditions plus recalls
Tuesday 17th July 19:45

First Floor Rehearsal
Tuesday 4th September 19:45

Rehearsals on Tuesday & Thursdays as per Rehearsal schedule

Sunday rehearsals
Sunday 28th October, 4th November, 11th November, 18th November