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Sweet Charity

Opening night: 29th January 1966
Performances: 608 performances

Composer: Cy Coleman
Book: Neil Simon

Gwen Verdon
Helen Gallagher
John McMartin
Thelma Oliver
Arnold Soboloff
James Luisi
John Wheeler

Musical Numbers
Baby Dream Your Dream
Big Spender
Did You Ever Look At You (cut)
Free Thought In Action Class Song (cut)
Gimme A Raincheck (cut)

A Good Impression (cut)
I Can't Let You Down (cut)I Love To Cry At Weddings,
I'll Take Any Man (cut)
I'm Way Ahead (cut)
I'm A Brass Band
I'm The Bravest Individual
I've Tried Everything (cut)
If My Friends Could See Me Now
Keep It In The Family (cut)
Pink Taffeta Sample Size 10 (cut)
Poor Everybody Else (cut)
The Rhythm Of Life
Sweet Charity
There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This
Too Many Tomorrows
When Did You Know? (cut)
Where Am I Going?
You Can't Lose ‘Em All (cut)
You Should See Yourself
You Wanna Bet (cut)

Gwen Verdon as CharityFar and away the most successful musical Fields wrote, Sweet Charity is the only Fields show which gained lasting public recognition. It was adapted from a Fellini film Nights of Cabiria, and tells the story of an eternally hopeful but repeatedly disappointed dance club hostess. This bizarre choice of occupation for the main character, apparently prompted by respect for or fear of audience sensibilities, was the only false note in a superbly written show.

The team of Fosse, Verdon, Simon, Coleman and Fields created the classic Sixties musical. Hair had nothing to offer except for its capture of a moment, but Sweet Charity embraced the time while respecting the principles which make musicals work. It was the first time since Stars in Your Eyes that Fields had written for contemporary characters, and the first time Fields had worked with a composer of a younger generation (Coleman was 25 years her junior). She relished the challenge, and produced a series of fresh, vital lyrics for the appealing heroine and her more brash streetwise associates.

As with Redhead, much of the show's initial success could be related to the Fosse/Verdon contribution, but Sweet Charity's durability, with frequent revivals, is due to the quality of the work by the writers.

This was the only Fields show to have a production in London. The film, starring Shirley MacLaine and featuring (regrettably, in my view) Sammy Davis Junior, was directed by Bob Fosse and was a highly faithful and accomplished translation of the show.

Incidentally Rhythm of Life is the only Dorothy Fields song to have featured on the BBC programme Songs of Praise. One Sunday night, this stalwart of the BBC God-slot broadcast a church youth choir singing the number. They sang it very nicely, but the transformation from mock-religious to real religious required one lyric amendment - rhythm in the bedroom became rhythm on the inside.

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