Sugar & spice: "Sweet Charity" is the whole package

Dancing and singing phenoms take the stage in Dennis
Left to right: Kaitlyn Davidson, Kristen Wyatt and Rachelle Rak at the Cape Playhouse in "Sweet Charity". Photo by Kathleen A. Fahle.

The first two shows of the Cape Playhouse's 87th season have been rather tame, but the cast of this week's "Sweet Charity" certainly put some shimmy and shake in the old girl last night.  The Tony award-winning musical, with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields and book by Neil Simon, was first performed on stage in 1966. A successful revival followed some 40 years later in 2005 on Broadway with Christina Applegate as Charity. 

It is the story of Charity, a dance hall hostess in 1960s New York City. Charity is sweet.  She's also a gullible, big-hearted spitfire whose eternal optimism leads her to fall in love over and over again--usually with the wrong men.

Charity is a dance hall hostess--a young woman who dances with men for money at the Fandango.  Such women were once called "taxi dancers" because like cabbies, they were paid for their time, in this case, on the dance floor.  And as was the case with some of the women, their services often extended beyond the dance floor.

For Charity and her friends, dancing is a way to make ends meet and bide their time until Mr. Right comes along.  But it proves to be a rather dragged out process considering the clientele the ladies rub elbows with.

Charity is played by the effervescent and incredibly talented Kirsten Wyatt, who appeared in "Legally Blonde" as Paulette at the Playhouse last season.  Wyatt's Charity is sweet and endearing the girl you want to see get the happy ending.

Kaitlyn Davidson and Rachalle Rak as Charity's best gal pals Helene and Nickie are the perfect supporting duo for Wyatt.  These girls can sing and dance like nobody's business.

John Scherer, a Cape Playhouse favorite, does an admirable job in a dual role opposite Wyatt's Charity as Italian film star Vittorio Vidal and Charity's fiancé Oscar Lindquist.

"Sweet Charity" is a swirl of motion from start to finish. High-energy dance numbers and bittersweet soliloquies keep the pace moving forward through this lengthy two-act show.  The show gets a bit off track at the beginning of the second act, but quickly regains its tempo.

In addition to the other girls at the dance hall, the ensemble of dancer/singers is 13 strong and they do an impressive job of maneuvering the playhouse stage under the direction of Mark Martino and choreography of Shea Sullivan.  Some of the bigger dance numbers including "Big Spender" and "Rich Mans Frug" are a delight.

A full orchestra punctuates the fast-paced score filled with celebrated songs included the aforementioned "Big Spender" and "If My Friends Could See Me Now."

"Sweet Charity" is a bittersweet sensation about one girl's journey through life's ups and downs. It's well worth tuning in to see how it all turns out.

"Sweet Charity" is running July 8 through July 20 at the Cape Playhouse, 820 Route 6A in Dennis, 877-385-3911. Shows are Monday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., matinees are Wednesdays and the second Thursday at 2 p.m. and the first Saturday at 3:30p.m.


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