REVIEW: “Sweet Charity” at CCM is a Sweet Treat

Review by Molly Alderson

On stage at CCM’s Patricia Corbett Theatre is the visual treat Sweet Charity. This musical comedy follows New York City dance hostess and hopeless romantic, Charity Hope Valentine, in her journey to find love. Famously directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, Sweet Charity is a nine-time Tony award winning musical that has delighted audiences for years with over-the-top musical numbers and hit songs like “Hey Big Spender ” and “If They Could See Me Now”. CCM Director and Choreographer, Diane Lala, tips a hat to Fosse and with careful direction and thoughtful choreography brought the audience back to 1960’s for a fun filled adventure. 

The Plot of Sweet Charity

Down on her love-life luck, Charity (Grace Marie Rusnica) is on a mission to find a man who will sweep her off her dancing feet and take her away from dead-end job as a dance hall hostess at the Fandango Ballroom. Unfortunately, as swiftly and sassily pointed out by Fandango Ballroom friends Nickie and Helene (Eliza Levy and Madison Mosley), Charity has a bad taste in men coupled with “girl who cried love” syndrome. Levy and Mosley are a spunky and seriously talented duo who meld and belt a few audience favorites like “There’s Gotta be Something Better” and “Baby, Dream Your Dream.”  

These are the ‘friends’ Charity is referring to in her infamous “If They Could See Me Now” song and dance number in the penthouse apartment Italian Movie Star Vittorio Vidal (Stanislav Przedlacki) whose unwavering Italian accent and suave demeanor have both Charity and audiences blushing. 

Cast of SWEET CHARITY at UC CCM – Mark Lyons, Lyons Photography, Inc.

Just before the second act Charity finds herself stuck in an elevator and smitten with our sweet protagonist’s love interest Oscar (Benjamin Cheng). Cheng’s sweet and nerdy depiction of Oscar is incredibly endearing and his quick witted one-liners provide perfectly-timed comedic relief. 

Other notable cast members include Daddy Brubeck (Sean Polk) who unfortunately had a microphone issue but belted his song “The Rhythm of Life” like a pro. Also, Dance Club owner Herman (Jackson Reagin) who evolves from a sleazy bar owner as a surprisingly endearing character (and great singer). 

More Great Performers

Let’s not forget the leg-tossing, show stopping dancers who showcase immense talent both physically and theatrically including Grace Capeless, Ry Dever, Annalese Fusaro, Indya Lincicome, Tomi Newman, Makayla Shipe, Coty Perno and Nick Gundrum. 

Last, but certainly not least, Grace Marie Rusnica should be commended for her betrayal of Charity. In one of the most demanding roles an actress can portray (she is on stage for the entire performance) her energy, spirit and talent is remarkable. Grace is sure to have a fruitful career on stage. 

Without giving too much of the show away, Charity’s story ends on a sweet and honest note. Life isn’t always happy, but you can always be hopeful. 

Cast of SWEET CHARITY at UC CCM – Mark Lyons, Lyons Photography, Inc.

More Context

The show was written and originally performed in the 1960’s, so the story, dialogue and some messages are a little…outdated. While there is nothing outwardly offensive, Charity’s quest is a bit antiquated for a modern audience. That said, the production is aimed to take you back in time and is a great representation of how far women have come, and how far we have yet to go. The production is suitable for most audiences but has a run time longer than most productions, about 2 hours and 45 minutes. 

Cast of SWEET CHARITY at UC CCM – Mark Lyons, Lyons Photography, Inc.

Get Tickets to Sweet Charity

Check out CCM’s Sweet Charity this weekend only. Tickets are available at The Box Office or click HERE.