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Blog Posted in avatar   Tim O'Brien's Blog

'Sweet Charity' Sizzles at Timber Lake Playhouse

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By Tim O'Brien
Posted Jul 1, 2011 in
"Sweet Charity"
Through July 10
Timber Lake Playhouse
Mt. Carroll, Illinois
815-244-2035
In a nutshell: Through spectacular song and dance, Sweet Charity tells the story of Charity Hope Valentine (played by Alexandra Palkovic), a dancer at the Fandango Ballroom in New York City. Unlucky in love, Charity remains ever hopeful that she will find happiness, romance and a way out of her current life. When she meets a shy, nervous man named Oscar (Andrew Harth), Charity learns that you can’t run from your past—you can only dive head-first into your future full of hope and optimism. Full of fun, laughs and good times, Sweet Charity includes several songs that have become hits over the last forty years, such as “Big Spender,” “If They Could See Me Now” and “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This.”
FIRST LOOK - "Sweet Charity" was very sweet and HOT
By Tim O'Brien
AM 1240 WSDR
O'Brien News Service
MT. CARROLL - Opening night for "Sweet Charity" at Timber Lake Playhouse was not only sweet, but hot, and that had nothing to do with the weather.
Hot as in a stunning adaptation of the book by Neil Simon and choreography by Bob Fosse, kind of hot. Hot as in the way it was re-conceived on the TLP stage by choreographer Tyler Sawyer Smith. And hot with the music direction of Travis Horton and under Guest Director Lili-Anne Brown. To be able to bring this play to fruition is no easy task and they did it - - with the help of a cast that charmed, dazzled and mesmerized the audience. Not to mention, it was HOT.
Let get this out right now. We may have seen a star being born right here in Mt. Carroll during the 50th season of this illustrious theater in the woods. Alexandra E. Palkovic as Charity Hope Valentine is a name to remember. She took this part and made that of a dance hall girl, not only glamorous, but, to a certain extent, Innocent, if that is possible. The role many may remember as being played by Shirley Maclaine in the movie, that fact was easily wiped away by Palkovic. This was her part. And to be honest, I loved it and could have watched another act with her in it. A character who finds herself unlucky in love and when she does fall, isn't so lucky once more. And in between is a wonderful story of working and living in New York circa 1966.
Then there is Nickie (Julia Mitchell), Helene (Daryn Harrell) and the rest of the Fandango dancing girls.The singing, sarcasm, anger, jealousy and, yes, friendship, all came through in this shady business. The movie's subject matter is by no means innocent but they way in which it is delivered makes you want to know more about these characters and you do not want to see them get hurt. The way the dance girls look at the clients, longing for love themselves, but not in this way, can be unsettling, if thought about too deeply.
The musical numbers were made for the 1960s and they translated well to today's world. In fact, so much so, it would be nice to see more of this. Take for example, the stunning look and presentation of "Rich Man's Frug." You cannot look away. And you do not want to because it's that good. It was hard trying to figure who to look at because there were so many performances that were fantastic. But, let's mention Kelsey Andres as lead Frug dancer Ursula March. A supporting performance here that stands out and you will remember after leaving the theater.
All this and the person who Charity is given the Sweet moniker has yet to be mentioned. He is Oscar Lindquist, played by Andrew Harth. What a delight he brings to the stage, right along with the energy.
As act two began we were sent to a church under a bridge and what a trip that was as well. With choreographer Smith leading the way as Daddy Brubeck, he heads the ensemble to an unusual sort of worship. But, once again, it is impossible to turn away.
Songs such as "Big Spender" and "If You Could See Me Now" and "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This" surely were crowd-pleasers.
MORE LATER...

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