Sweet Charity – Bordentown Regional High School in Bordentown, NJ
April 19, 2016
Review by: Aditi Biswas of Phoenixville Area High School
For a girl so sweet, who wears her heart (tattoo) literally on her sleeve (well, shoulder), Charity Hope Valentine never seems to catch a break when it comes to romance. Bordentown Regional High School’s Sweet Charity explores Charity’s ups and downs as she tries to juggle men, love, and a big ol’ heart.
Based on an Italian film, the book for the musical was written by Neil Simon, and opened on Broadway in 1966. It follows Charity, a dancer-for-hire at a dance hall called the Fandango Ballroom, through several misadventures around New York City as she tries to find a love deserving of her passion.
Cynthia Reynolds played Charity with an off-beat sense of humor and a genuine need for love that never left the show. She portrayed Charity as naive but never dumb, and brought out subtle quirks in the character, such as her penchant for making up phrases to get through the day. She brought energy to every number, pushing the ensembles to do the same, and her voice always rang loud and clear. Liam McCormack played Oscar Lindquist, Charity’s rather nervous love interest, with a quirky humor that balanced Charity’s own oddness.
The different ensembles brought energy to the show, even though they occasionally struggled to keep it up by the end. Though, their off-handed and quirky humor often shadowed these lapses. For example, Charity and Oscar go to a hippie church, and the church ensemble perfectly encapsulated the very confusing 60s ideals that mashed eastern and western ideals, and yet brought an extraordinary amount of joy to all involved. They wore outrageous clothing and jumped around the stage, exaggerating every move and emotion. This type of humor gained big laughs in the audience throughout the show.
While lighting did not play a significant part in the show, it was used precisely. During scenes in the dance hall, dim lighting was used to bring out the seedy nature of the place. In contrast, when Charity ventures to the outside world, free from the world of dancing for pay, the stage was bright. There were issues with the microphones, but they were resolved as the musical progressed.
Sweet Charity is a musical that does not have the most joyful of beginnings or endings, but focuses on an utterly joyful optimist when it comes to love and caring. Bittersweet and filled with colorful characters, the musical bared its heart to the audience in the same way Charity does to the world.
Review by Eden Halterman of Academy of the New Church
Not even being pushed into a lake, spending the night in a closet, or being trapped in an elevator can get sweet Charity down in her quest for love, as she remains ever optimistic and hopelessly romantic. Bordentown Regional High School brought Charity’s dramatic search for love to the stage in their performance of the musical Sweet Charity.
Sweet Charity premiered on Broadway in 1966, choreographed and directed by Bob Fosse. This production and its many subsequent reproductions won several Tony Awards, most notably for its choreography. Sweet Charity follows the story of unlucky-in-love Charity Hope Valentine, as she searches for a romance that will finally bring her out of her dead-end job as a New York City dance hall hostess.
Bordentown Regional High School’s production of Sweet Charity was energetic and engaging, driven by an exceptional lead, a captivating chorus, and lively comedy.
The show was led by Cynthia Reynolds in her outstanding portrayal of dance hall hostess and hopeless romantic Charity Hope Valentine. Reynolds commanded the spotlight, and brought cheerfulness, charm, passion, and an incredible vocal and acting range to the performance. Reynolds’s ever-present energy never once waivered, and the contagiousness of her enthusiasm constantly encouraged the other performers, driving the show to success.
Reynolds was supported by the talents of Daria Briggs and Abigayle Harnum, playing Charity’s best friends at the dance hall, Nickie and Helene. Both girls impressed with their own vocal and dancing abilities. The talents of two ensemble members also stood out throughout the show; Evan Braasch caught the audience’s eye with his constant earnestness and energy, and Erin Ryan’s exceptional dancing ability stole the spotlight in any dancing number.
The bright world of 1960s New York City was brought to the stage through sparkling costumes, bright make-up, and bold music. The inclusion of realistic props, including a working cigarette lighter and a live dog, helped bring the show to life. Though sometimes singers were hard to hear, technical crews encountered some complications, and some cast members appeared to be out of sync, the entire cast was lively, humorous, and full of love for their show.
Bordentown Regional High School’s production of Sweet Charity had the audience laughing aloud throughout the show, impressed them with the incredible talent of the lead, and captured their hearts with the spirit and enthusiasm of the cast as a whole.