Fringe Box



Stage Dragon: Sweet Charity At the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 21 May, 2016
Updated on: 22 May, 2016

By Ferenc Hepp

Performance Preparation Academy in Guildford is a small college with an emphasis on professional mentoring and individuality, running various musical theatre, acting and teaching courses.

This week, its students presented Sweet Charity at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre main stage.

Sweet Charity has been playing at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

Sweet Charity has been playing at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

The book was written by Neil Simon, music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields. It premiered on Broadway in 1966, where it was nominated for nine Tony Awards, and also ran in the West End as well as having revivals and international productions.

The setting is 1960s New York, and at the top of the show, Sweet Charity (the girl who wants to be loved) is flirting away in Central Park to what it seems to be no avail, as she ends up being pushed in the lake by her boyfriend.

At this point, I must congratulate Natalie Thorn who played the part of Charity in this performance (some of the parts are double cast) as her performance and energy were absolutely flawless throughout the show, and she is on stage virtually all the way through, not getting much of a rest apart from the interval.

Her professionalism, acting, singing and dancing talents were certainly a highlight for me.

The only wobble I can remember was not to do with anyone’s performance, but a slightly worrying moment when the park bench which was on set did not quite look sturdy enough to make it to the end of the show. Thankfully it did.

This encounter sets the theme of the show whereby Charity tries to find love with a number of potential suitors, but nothing quite goes right for her.

She thinks “My problem is I’m too giving.”

She gets picked up by the film star Vittorio Vidal (a fun part played well by William Paul) who ends up getting back with his mistress, then there are some lovely moments between Charity and her next potential suitor, a shy tax accountant called Oscar Lindquist.

Oscar was played by Michael Magennis, another young actor who stood out for me in this production.

The contrast of his characterisation against the dancing girls’ lifestyles and his emerging relationship with Charity was portrayed with skill and lots of humour.

Comedy is never easy, but Magennis had plenty, with good timing and appropriate facial expressions.

He falls for her and declares: “In you, I’ve found pure innocence,” which is rather interesting, thinking about her job as a dancer.

Charity ends up quitting her job and wanting to marry Oscar, but all goes wrong again after Oscar announces that he cannot marry her, and she ends up in the lake yet again.

The Cast of Sweet Charity.

The Cast of Sweet Charity.

A special mention must also go to Lewis Butler and Lucy Stewart, who were in charge of the staging, as the choreography was very impressive throughout and executed perfectly.

There are plenty of well-known numbers in this show, such as Big Spender, If My Friends Could See Me Now and The Rhythm Of Life which are all brought to life with lots of energy, great dancing and plenty of smiles by this young company. I am confident that they will have a successful career ahead of them in this industry.

Sweet Charity runs at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre until Saturday, May 21, and tickets are available via the website: or by calling the box office on 01483 440000.

Star rating 4

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