Movie, television, and now stage star Molly Ringwald and regional theater actor Guy Adkins are a prize pair in the NETworks Presentations, LLC production of Sweet Charity, now raising the roof at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium as part of the city’s critically acclaimed Broadway Series South series. . Ringwald gives a charismatic characterization of the tender-hearted title character, Charity Hope Valentine, the unlucky-in-love but ever-resilient dance-hall hostess who always sees the glass as half full rather than half empty. The former Brat-Packer sings and dances up a storm, too.
Although Guy Adkins receives second billing, his scene-stealing performance as a buttoned-down tax accountant named Oscar Lindquist — seemingly a nice guy but ultimately only the latest louse to love Charity and leave her in the lurch — is a priceless piece of physical comedy reminiscent of the outrageous loose-limbed, spaghetti-spined antics of Dick Van Dyke and the late, great Art Carney. Adkins’ comic contortions during his stuck-in-the-elevator scene with Ringwald, during which the increasingly claustrophobic Oscar comes completely unglued, have the audience rolling in the aisles; and his subsequent appearances prove no less amusing.
Bridget Berger and Francesca Harper provide strong sisterly support as Charity’s feisty friends and fellow taxi dancers Nickie and Helene, two tough-as-a-nickel-steak broads with an inexplicable tender spot in their hearts for the hapless Miss Valentine. David Glaspie is a scream as the hilarious huckster Daddy Johann Sebastian Brubeck of the Rhythm of Life Church; Steve Wilson is tall, dark, handsome, warm, and witty as Charity’s suave new friend Italian movie star and ladies’ man Vittorio Vidal; Nova Bergeron (subbing for Jessica Leigh Brown) cut quite a figure Tuesday night as the somewhat fickle Vittorio’s increasingly jealous girlfriend Ursula; Richard Ruiz is amusing as Herman, the tough-talking hard-boiled manager of the Fandango Ballroom, where Charity, Nickie, and Helene ply their tawdry trade; Kathryn Mowat Murphy gets a big laugh in the teensy-weensy role of Woman at the 92nd Street Y; and Ben Cameron adds a trio of cute comic cameos as a Waiter, Vittorio’s butler and jack-of-all-trades Manfred, and the weirdo Receptionist at the 92nd Street Y.
Snappy staging by director Scott Faris and Tony Award-winning choreographer Wayne Cilento, exuberant accompaniment by musical director/conductor Ross Scott Rawlings and the Sweet Charity Orchestra, flamboyant sets by Scott Pask, and fabulous 1960s fashions by North Carolina native William Ivey Long make this touring version of the 2005 Broadway revival of Sweet Charity look and sound like a million or more well-spent bucks. Faris orchestrates the show’s comedy with a deft hand, Cilento’s incendiary dance routines help the production numbers sizzle, and Rawlings and percussionist Rob Murphey have the Sweet Charity Orchestra really cooking. Don’t miss this marvelous musical.
Broadway Series South presents Sweet Charity, Starring Molly Ringwald, Thursday-Friday, May 31-June 1, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, June 2, at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 3, at 2 and 7 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $18-$68. Progress Energy Center Box Office: 919/831-6060 Note: Arts Access, Inc., will audio describe the 8 p.m. June 2nd performance. Broadway Series South: http://www.broadwayseriessouth.com/. Group Rates (20+ tickets): 919/857-4565. The Tour: http://www.sweetcharityontour.com/ [inactive 4/08]. 2005 Broadway Revival: http://www.sweetcharitythemusical.com/ [inactive 12/08]. Internet Broadway Database: http://www.ibdb.com/show.asp?ID=8457. Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065054/. Molly Ringwald: http://www.ibdb.com/person.asp?id=92607 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000208/ (Internet Movie Database).