My first show of the year was a bit of a late one.
Sweet Charity, originally staged in 1966, is hit after hit, that can only be justified by a cast parallel to its beauty. Regardless of the freezing cold weather that descended on Manchester this week, I could have sworn I was in the bustling streets of 1960’s New York, surrounded by hazy neon signs and thick, city air that lingers in the summer.
Derek Bond’s Sweet Charity was a fantastic production, sweeping up the great bits of this classic musical has and bundling it up with modern and innovative staging. Big belters such as big spender and there’s gotta be something better than this weren’t a disappointment. Both Natalie Hope (Betsy) and Cat Simmons (Helene) were an incredible tour de force, creating so much energy on that tiny stage. And of course, powerhouse Kaisa Hammarlund is an absolute delight as the desperate, energetic, infatuating Charity. Her energy is infectious, and had the ability to stick a big grin on my face hours after I left the theatre.
It was probably a bit of a given that the team behind Little Shop of Horrors was going to pull it out of the bag for this show. Director Derek Bond uses the space in the round so well that I felt excited even before I entered the building. Designer James Perkins gave the show the right amount of class and vintage style, on this small but punchy stage. A hot air ballon, stuck in mid air, gave for fantastic playful staging with small props and perspective, especially when you’re up in the cheap seats of the upper balcony.
I can’t help but linger on the stage design. The round give such inspiring possibility to set, staging and choreography and this production of Sweet Charity was no exception. Mirrors of the dance hall that surrounded the dancers as they got ready for a night out tempting in big spenders was another highlight, a simple accent that kept the space open and accessible to all audience members.
I wanted to do a bit of a heel click as I waltzed through the Arndale on my way back to the tram. It was a wonderful thing to see on a dreary Manchester day, can’t wait for the next show.