Arts & Entertainment

‘Charity’ a well-crafted production

The Temple theater department shines in an all-around entertaining musical with “Sweet Charity.”

The Temple theater department shines in an all-around entertaining musical with “Sweet Charity.”

Temple’s theater production of “Sweet Charity,” Neil Simon’s 1966 musical that takes place in New York City, made its debut Sept. 22.

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REBECCA SAVEDOW TTN “Sweet Charity” features intricate choreography and plucky characters. The musical runs through Oct. 11 at Tomlinson Theater.

Directed by Peter Reynolds and choreographed by Timothy Craskey, the musical captures the big dreams and unrealistic notions of love that infatuate Charity Hope Valentine, played by Maria Konstantinidis, on a university production budget.

“Sweet Charity” is full of naive sentiments, which are personified through the creative set design, modest orchestra and simple lighting. Temple’s theater department effectively created an engaging set, featuring a colorful stage, lighting and a small orchestra, which were all able to maintain the audience’s attention and well worth the $15 ticket price.

Temple’s theater created an out-of-the-ordinary stage design. The set, which was placed on the front half of the stage with the audience’s seats against the wall, sat in front of a full, floor-to-ceiling white screen. For each scene, the title of the setting was projected onto the screen. In front of the backdrop was a versatile double-sided stairway, which served as a bridge, Coonie Island, a church and a dance hall balcony.

The acting captured the humor and lacked the seriousness of a drama, with an entertaining cast and plenty of well-timed comedy.

Helene, played by Zenzi Williams, and Nickie, portrayed by Krista Boshinski, were casted well. The actresses complimented one another’s humor, and the pair’s duet of “Baby, Dream your Dream” was dynamic and engaging.

The elaborate choreography was no doubt heavily rehearsed and precise, but the cast’s performance was inconsistent. The ladies of the dancing parlor, however, entertained the audience throughout both acts.

Konstantinidis appeared to adjust to her role as the show progressed, and, by the second act, Valentine’s dance and act showed a significant increase in her comfort on the circular stage.

Valentine remains in impossibly high spirits throughout the most dramatic situations that, from any other person, would probably elicit a more solemn response. The character seems to represent the narrow, childish expectations many young women hold about an uncaring world, which writer Neil Simon seems to feel we live in.

Daddy Brubeck, played by Derrick L. Millard II, added an element of tainted love to the mix, which contradicted the hope Valentine desperately clutched to as her love for Oscar Lindquist, portrayed by Brent Knobloch, grew.

As followers of Brubeck’s church praise and gyrate as a drunken mass during the “Rhythm of Life” number, a stage was effectively set for an eventual disappointment.

Konstantinidis demonstrated an understanding of the many facets of her character’s dimensions. By the third number, Konstantinidis moved easily through intricate choreography and drew the audience into a world where only Valentine’s understanding mattered.

Quentin Williams can be reached at quentin@temple.edu.

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