Theatre / Sweet Charity
is a 1966 musical with book by Neil Simon
based on the Federico Fellini
film Nights of Cabiria
, score by Cy Coleman
and Dorothy Fields
, originally directed by Bob Fosse
and starring Gwen Verdon. It tells the story of Charity Hope Valentine, a romantic dance hall hostess looking for love in all the wrong places, and how she eventually finds it—and loses it. The play is considered a classic example of Fosse's direction and style of dance, and some of the numbers (ie "Big Spender" and "Rich Man's Frug") are some of the best examples of Fosse style dance.
This play provides examples of:
- Dark Reprise: "Baby, Dream Your Dream" starts out with Nikki and Helene mocking Charity's optimism, but then they reveal that they would love to have someone to love them.
- Did Not Get The Guy: Charity. And she came so close! The circumstances change depending on which ending the production you see is using (there are three) but the fact is, Oscar and Charity do not wind up together.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Charity and Oscar spend hours trapped in an elevator together while Oscar has a nervous breakdown and Charity has to attempt to calm him. They leave the elevator already a little bit in love!
- First Kiss: Played with. At the end of Charity and Oscar's first date, they stand together awkwardly and a sign (in the original production) lights up saying 'The First Kiss!' It doesn't happen.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Charity, Nicki, Helene and all the girls in the dance hall. Very few of them seem to be actually prostitutes (Charity specifically says all she sells is her time); they all still are caring people, especially prevalent in the "I love to cry at weddings" scene.
- I Kiss Your Hand: Oscar is too shy to kiss Charity goodbye, so he kisses her hand. Charity thinks it's adorable. Her friends think it's a bit odd.
- Irrelevant Act Opener: "Rhythm of Life". What exactly does this scene have to do with the plot? Nothing. Is it awesome? HELL YES.
- "I Want" Song: "There's Got To Be Something Better Than This" is a straightforward I Want Song, "Baby Dream Your Dream" is a bittersweet example, and "If My Friends Could See Me Now" can be considered an I Want as well.
- Meaningful Name: "Sweet Charity" is a slang term for a prostitute who gives it away for love instead of money.
- Meet Cute: Charity and Oscar meet in an elevator that gets stuck between floors.
- Music for Courage: Charity and Oscar sing "I'm The Bravest Individual" when they're trapped in an elevator together. It doesn't do much for them.
- Wrong Guy First: Charity goes on a date with movie star Vittorio Vidal, and it's set up as if he is going to be the love interest of the musical. Sure, we've seen worse. But Charity winds up convincing Vittorio to go back to his girlfriend Ursula, and spends the night in a closet while Vittorio and Ursula make love. She leaves with nothing but his autograph and a hat and cane.