Sweet Charity by Colchester Operatic Society

Review: Sweet Charity, music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields, book by Neil Simon at Colchester Mercury until Feb 2.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
12.59 PM

This often seems less like a musical and more like a series of cabaret turns for the leading lady. The story is paper thin and predictable but if you’ve got the right girl playing Charity it’s hugely entertaining – and Colchester Operatic have got a lulu.

Okay, Leanne Fincham has played the part before, eight years ago, but now she’s honed it to perfection in a performance that strikes sparks off the rest of the talented cast.

Leggy and gauche, she knows how to deliver a song and enjoys an easy sense of fun that rattles up the laughs.

If My Friends Could See Me Now is always the big number for Charity Hope Valentine, the fatal picker of men who can’t say no. Played out in the bedroom of film star Vittorio Vidal, she belts it beautifully and fills the stage with steps that Bob Fosse would have been happy to watch.

She’s also very good in I’m a Brass Band and finds a nice edge of pathos in Where Am I Going? Her comic timing comes sharply into play in the scene where she is trapped in the lift with Oscar, the latest love of her life, with their song I’m The Bravest Individual.

But this is by no means a one-woman show. Far from it. David Rutter is a good Oscar and Emma Ward and Jo Daniels are in fine form as Helene and Nickie, her friends in the shabby Fan-Dango Ballroom. Their Baby Dream Your Dreams is a delight.

Olly Medlicott’s Vittorio is another voice in nice nick but Jonathan Davis takes the prize for sheer verbal gusto. His I Love To Cry At Weddings is great.

Colchester Operatic turn out terrific, well-drilled singing-dancing chorus teams and the choreography in this show is top class, particularly in I’m a Brass Band and the stonking Rhythm of Life with Daddy Brubeck (Richard Bland) serving up doubtful good advice to his pot-happy congregation.

The large orchestra under musical director Neil Somerville lends powerful support all through and gives the show a creative continuity.

David Henshall.