Neil Simon- Pulitzer Prize Winner, creator of shallow male leads
Another day, another piece to the Sweet Charity review, and also my birthday (where were all my musical theatre themed presents people? Ok, I did get my second copy of the Hair vinyl- this time the full version not the highlights). Today we move on to the book of Sweet Charity. Neil Simon is possibly one of the most famous American comedic playwrights, writing such classics as Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple and also (coincidence?) Little Me. It was only the other night that I was discussing with a friend how similar Little Me and Sweet Charity were, well now I know why- THEY'RE EXACTLY THE SAME.
The storyline itself is pretty non-existent with very little actually happening in the show. Charity starts the show jilted, forlorn but hopeful and ends the show jilted, forlorn but hopeful- whats the bloody point? All that happens in the show is that she learns that even accountants can be creeps which I guess most of us already knew. So if the storyline is rubbish then surely the character development must be so amazing that we don't care about the lack of a plot. Charity is probably one of the nicest parts an Alto can get. When played right she has the combination of vulnerability, brassiness and general whore with a heart type character that all musical theatre heroines strive for. Well of course she would be, when you're writing a part for the boss's wife it's got to be perfect.
Nicki and Helene aren't too bad as supporting roles go, although even their characters are the two obvious sidekick types: tough/motherly and ditsy/dreamy. From here on the characterisation goes down hill. The rest of the dance hall hostesses don't really have an amazing amount to do and the one that does is badly written. Unfortunately I played her. Carmen, as written by Neil Simon is basically a schizophrenic- she starts the play a tough bitch who belittles Charity's romantic decisions and ends it getting all soppy over the prospect of a wedding.
The male characters, like their songs, are pretty bad and at the stage of stereotype that could have easily been bordering on clever parody but aren't. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little, its not exactly Marguerite stereotyping bad I just expected more from someone with a Pulitzer prize. So I guess if the book isn't great and some of the songs are a little shite, Sweet Charity is one of those shows that relies on an awesome cast and some inspired choreography which I hope we had. Old people seem to like it too.