Theatre: Sweet Charity

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:

  • Adorkable: Oscar. Neurotic, geeky, shy and utterly loveable...until the last scene.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations/Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: It's based on Federico Fellini's Nights of Cabiria.
  • Always V Sexy: Movie star Vittorio Vidal.
  • Bad Girl Song: "Hey Big Spender".
  • Blatant Lies: Every line of "Big Spender".
  • BSOD Song: "Where Am I Going"; even more so in the movie, when it is featured after Oscar walks out on Charity.
  • 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.
  • Downer Ending: No matter which of the three endings the production uses, it's going to be sad.
  • 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.
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number: "I Love To Cry At Weddings".
  • 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.
  • Latin Lover: Vittorio Vidal.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Charity's main problem.
    Helene: You run your heart like a hotel. You got guys checking in and out all the time.
  • 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.
  • No Antagonist: Charity's kind of her own worst enemy...
  • Original Cast Precedent: Bob Fosse decided Gwen Verdon would wear a Little Black Dress for the whole show, just because he liked the way she looked in it. This dress has now become the standard Charity costume. She'll occasionally wear red for her scenes in the dance hall, but other than that, you'd be hard pressed to find a Charity who doesn't wear it for at least a few scenes.
  • Pair the Spares: Doesn't actually happen, but Nicki lampshades it.
    Nicki I could marry Herman—
    Helene: And be permanently sorry!
    Nicki and Herman: We would make a really lousy pair.
  • The Pollyanna: Charity herself. She loses everything in one day when her husband leaves her, and yet skips off alone, saying, "There's always tomorrow."
  • Scam Religion: The Rhythm of Life Church was supposedly founded at the urging of a mysterious Voice:
    And the voice said, "Brother, there's a million pigeons
    Ready to be hooked on new religions."
  • Sidekick Song: "Baby, Dream Your Dream" by Nicki and Helene.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: And thinks every guy is 'the one!'
  • Survival Mantra: Charity invokes this with "I'm the Bravest Individual" by encouraging Oscar to repeat to himself that he is brave, in order to calm him down. Some productions also have Charity reprise said song at the end to boost her confidence after she and Oscar break up.
  • Title Drop: It's Oscar's nickname for Charity.
    Oscar: You're a great girl, Charity. Sweet Charity.
  • To Be Continued: A "TO BE CONTINUED" sign appears at the moment of Pseudo Crisis that ends the first act.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: The Rhythm of Life Church. A jazz group that turned into a religion. Okay, sure.
  • 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.