Sarrah Strimel carries the John W. Engeman Theater’s production of Sweet Charity . It’s as sweet as Long Island theater gets. The musical numbers in Neil Simon’s hopeful, unique musical are an enormous treat, and rarely misses its mark.
Charity Hope Valentine’s classic 1966 story is relatable even today, yet different from any other in the musical theater canon.
A New York dancer-for-hire looking for love, she gets shot down by the men she pursues and rises back up as she looks to keep her glass half-full.
Strimel’s voice is perfect, as well as her talent for looking naïve and perplexed all at once. She compassionately shows Chastity’s solid yearnings, in addition to her lack of sense when it comes to achieving her goals.
Three of Charity’s love interests are portrayed by Jamie LaVerdiere, who easily transitions through the wildly contrasting characters.
Danny Bolero, who also alternates in a number of roles, gies a standout performance, with a high-level of humor and finely tuned eccentricities. He is especially endearing as Herman, the manager of the Fan-Dango Ballroom, where Charity works.
In a slight miss-step, Charity’s “friends” Nikkie (Lisa Karlin) and Helene (Debra Walton) are slightly miscast; they never really make a connection with Chastity, nor are they believable in their profession.
Sweet Charity is known for its infamous elevator and nightclub scenes, all of which are exceptionally produced on the Engeman Theatre’s cozy stage.
Director Alan Souza and choreographer Al Blackstone have created a swanky, smooth Pompeii Club through subtle motions and snarky movements that are unbelievably fun in their faux-pretentiousness.
John Davenport’s costume design is slick and thoughtful in this moody scene, using black and purple to create an atmosphere of high-society haughtiness.
The coordinated dresses and colors throughout the show are vibrant and eye-popping, though the cuts and Mark Adam Rampmeyer’s hair design are not quite right when men dress as women in “Big Spender.” A ploy often used to cut down on cast members, the actors shouldn’t be so obvious in their cross-dressing.
Featuring hit songs such as “Big Spender,” “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This” and “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” Sweet Charity’s popularity has withstood the test of time. The show features energetic and sexy tunes, but the fact that Charity’s story isn’t wrapped in a big bow come curtain time is one of its biggest attributes.
This makes the journey all the more worthwhile. Charity says that she’s nuts for happy endings, yet she doesn’t necessarily get one.
The hopefulness gets a bit lost in its quick presentation at the conclusion of the show, but overall the John W. Engeman Theater has once again produced a classy, fun show that will leave audiences thinking and humming.
Tickets may be purchased by calling 631-261-2900, by visiting the theater’s Web site, or at the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street in Northport. And, click here to follow TheImproper on Twitter for more theater updates.