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‘Sweet Charity’ to be entered in statewide competition

By Staff | Nov 27, 2009

Cypress Lake High School certainly found the plu-perfect performer in Sanibel islander Kacie Phillips, for the musically demanding role of Charity Hope Valentine, the gullible always-in-love dance hall hostess in the school’s latest production – “Sweet Charity.” Unfortunately, if you missed the three performances over this past weekend, you are out of luck, since it was a limited run ending Saturday; but these talented young performers were so outstanding and the school’s production was so terrific that I feel they need written acknowledgement.

But I need to cheer this endeavor on since “Sweet Charity” is being entered as in the statewide High School Musical Awards competition. Also, while I have your attention, we need to cheer our school on at the Awards event on Monday, May 17, 2010. It is vital that we support this school with our attendance as well as our dollars, since the present economic climate threatens arts programs in all our Florida schools.

OK, I’m off my soapbox. Now on with the show!

Charity believes that the “fickle finger of fate” which promises her so much is doing her in when it comes to love; there seem to be no happy endings for this spunky miss – she’s is getting used to rejection

Set in 1960s New York City in and around the Fandango Dance Hall, this hippy, happy-go-lucky show was penned by Neil Simon with music by Cy Coleman, and originally conceived, staged and choreographed by Bob Fosse. The school’s version was directed with sets designed by the inspired and inspiring Jason Loete, choreographed and lighted by Patty Gair, with Music Direction by Gary Stoh, and amazing scenic rear projections by Lew Phillips. But, when all is said and done, it is the students who are the real stars and the ones we should applaud and recognize.

First off, the demanding principal role of Charity requires a talent for singing, dancing and acting of the highest order and young Kacie Phillips delivers a towering performance in this diva role – her total stage presence, is dazzling, well beyond her tender years. She is right on target with a Broadway sound that is first rate. Kacie is simply sensational. Phillips sings and dances up a storm with a relentless perkiness. She is a joy to watch and listen to as she belts out such classics as “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” and “I’m a Brass Band.” She sure does strut her stuff, as the hippy dippy dance hall hostess who moves from one relationship to another until she meets “Mr. Right” – Oscar Lindquist, a be-spectacled nerdy fella, played in stylish, comic perfection by a very funny guy, Jeremy Miller. For example, in the elevator scene, Jeremy got laughs that weren’t even noticeable in the Broadway version. Bravo, Jeremy!

With its many cameo roles, “Sweet Charity” is a great choice for a large group of performers. Michael Nance nicely captured the studly, suave, elegant lifestyle of Vittorio Vidal, the famous Italian film star – aided most successfully by his mistress, Ursula (Katy Gibble), who pouted and vamped in high style.

Helene (Allison Scott) and Nickie (Eden Shelton) – also dance hall hostesses as well as Charity’s best friends – both exuded the same frustrations with their lot and contributed to the show’s high performance level.

Joey Whitesman, balancing the biggest Afro wig ever seen in Fort Myers, was terrific as Daddy Brubeck, the central character in the show-stopping number, “Rhythm of Life.”

The ladies of the ensemble hit it out of the park with their rendition of the show stopper “Big Spender” – as a matter of fact the entire ensemble was outstanding. Each and every member of the company found and developed a character and maintained it throughout the show. That makes for a truly interesting cast that is wonderfully entertaining to observe.

The direction by Loete and Choreography by Gair was imaginative throughout. Gair made maximum use of the dancers especially in the hilarious “Rich Man’s Frug,” “I’m a Brass Band” and the aforementioned “Big Spender.”

Loete’s well designed sets were wonderfully enhanced by Lew Phillips’ startling psychedelic rear projections. (Who could blame Phillips, Sanibel’s former police chief, for shining – after all, Kacie is his daughter!)

All in all, “Sweet Charity” was a joyous show, full of high energy and talented Broadway wannabes. This show was difficult to tackle and the CLHS cast won the evening giving it their all.

Now, go out and win that Number One Award for Best High School Musical! I’ll be there May 17 to cheer you on!

Be sure and watch this column for reports of the next big event at the Cypress Lake High School Center for the Arts.

That’s all this week from Marsha.