Charity Hope Valentine, the warm-hearted woman who is looking for love in the classic musical Sweet Charity, is back onstage of the Croswell Opera House in Adrian this weekend, for the first time since 1971.
The plot: Charity, a dancer in a seedy Times Square dance hall, tries to look on the bright side of life despite the odds, yearning for a good man. But she has bad luck until she meets Oscar, who wants to marry her. She lies about her profession, telling him she works at a bank. But Oscar eventually discovers the truth and ends their relationship. But sweet, optimistic Charity still hopes for happiness — someday.
Based on the 1957 Fellini movie Nights of Cabiria, Sweet Charity, which premiered on Broadway in 1966, is one of the best-loved musicals. It has a book by Neil Simon, music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields, and was directed and choreographed for Broadway by the iconic Bob Fosse. It was later adapted for a 1969 film starring Shirley MacLaine.
Stephanie Stephan Dennehy of Toledo, the choreographer for the Croswell, was drawn to the production because “it’s a Bob Fosse show, so it’s a classic, and I was interested in seeing how I could pull it off.” She also welcomed the opportunity to work with director Erica Wyman of San Francisco and Toledoan Libby Bruno, who stars as Charity.
Dennehy, who has been dancing for 36 years and teaching and choreographing for 23 years, has a bachelor’s degree in musical theater performance from Western Michigan University and has choreographed shows for the Purple Rose Theater Co. in Chelsea, Mich., and the Performance Network in Ann Arbor as well as the Croswell, and is associated with 3-B Productions. She describes her work in Sweet Charity as “Fosse-esque,” not a copy.
Among her favorite numbers in the show are “Brass Band,” with its big sound, and Libby Bruno’s solo in “If They Could See Me Now,” Dennehy said. “Libby is just joyful to watch.”
The Croswell cast includes David Blackburn of Spring Arbor, Mich., who plays the straight-laced Oscar. Nickie and Helene, leaders of the dance hall girls, are portrayed by Natalie Kissinger of Maumee and Mia Gladieux of Toledo. Paul Manger of Adrian is Vittorio Vidal, Justin Lujan of Adrian is Herman, and Helane Stiebler of Toledo is Ursula.
Music direction by Brian Rose of Ann Arbor. Scenic design is by Michael Lackey, costume design by Natalie Kissinger, sound design by Elizabeth and Phillip Baugh, and lighting is by Tiff Crutchfield and Kelvin Roberson.
Performances of Sweet Charity are at 8 p.m. Friday, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Croswell, 129 E. Maumee St., Adrian. Tickets, $15 — $35, are available from 517-263-6868, croswell.org, or at the box office.
Toledo Rep board
The Toledo Repertoire Theatre has named new members of its board of directors, including Patrick Flannagan, who returned here from Los Angeles, where he worked in film and television. His background includes technical theater and stage management. Also named are David Nelms, technical director for Lourdes University and former tech director for the Rep, and Kris Parker, an accountant for KeyBank who has served as a volunteer for the Young Rep program.
The Rep also announced that Ben Byard, who led the marketing effort for the recent hit production of Young Frankenstein will join the theater’s marketing committee, and Jamie Naragon, manager of the Maumee Performing Arts Center for Maumee Schools who has worked as stage manager and assistant stage manager for the Rep, will join the building/maintenance committee.
Movie and music
Organist Andrew Rogers, the main organist at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, will accompany a showing of the 1926 Buster Keaton silent film The General on Friday at the Sandusky State Theatre.
Keaton plays a Southern railroad engineer, Johnny Gray, who has a prize train engine, called The General, and a true love, Annabelle (Marion Mack). Gray is rejected when he tries to enlist as a soldier in the Civil War; he is considered to be more valuable to the South’s cause as an engineer. A wild adventure begins when Northerners steal the General, with Annabelle on board, and Gray sets out to rescue both. Keaton performs his own stunts in this action comedy.
The General will be screened at 7:30 p.m. at the theater, 107 Columbus Ave. in Sandusky. Tickets, $4, can be purchased at state.comsandusky or 419-626-1950 or toll free at 877-626-1950.
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