- Miles Hedley
SWEET CHARITY at Blackheath Halls
Sweet Charity has a heck of a musical pedigree – the original director was Bob Fosse, the book was by Neil Simon and the near-perfect songs, by composer Cy Coleman and lyricist Dorothy Fields, include all-time classics Big Spender, If My Friends Could See Me Now and Rhythm Of Life. It’s enough to unnerve even the most seasoned pro.
But if the Trinity Laban musical theatre students who presented the show at Blackheath Halls were daunted they certainly didn’t show it and gave us a fabulous exhibition of singing, dancing, acting and – perhaps most difficult of all – comic-timing.
The success of the show rests entirely on the shoulders of whoever plays sweet-natured optimist Charity because the character is so rarely offstage – it’s why Fosse cast Hollywood legend Shirley MacLaine when he made a film version of the musical. So it is to the eternal credit of student May Tether* (playing the title role at the performance I saw) that she gave us a sensational performance worthy of her predecessor and made Trinity’s version an unalloyed triumph.
Which is not to say her talented co-stars didn’t play their part – there were particularly good turns by James Dodd as her lovesick beau Oscar (pictured here with Tether), Katie Ramshaw and Enya Loughlin as her fellow nightclub dancers and Thomas Ibbs as a silver-tongued, solid gold movie star.
Director Charlotte Westenra and choreographer Steven Harris used the Halls’ largely unadorned stage to great effect to highlight some fine dance routines by their stars and the rest of the well-drilled Trinity troupe - Naomi Joy Anderson, Sophie Clarke, Millie Cranston, Ejiro Richmond, Eimear Friel, Catriona Scott, Christopher Jeffery, Kira MacCarter, Brandon Marinas, Zak Robinson and Emma Roscoe.
And the 11-strong Trinity orchestra, directed by Nathan Jarvis on keyboards, ensured there was no let-up in the pace of the show. It was brilliant fun – but the most brilliant of all was Tether.
Picture: Lidia Crusafilli
*For the record, Elsa-Grace Waterfield played Charity at two of the performances. Also sharing roles were Molly Amelia Jenkins, Shannon Whittle, Evan Blanque and Chesney Fawkes-Porter.