Off West End Reviews: Sweet Charity At Cadogan Hall
| By Molly Richardson
On Wednesday I went to see the limited run of the off-west end version of Sweet Charity at Cadogan Hall which starred a host of stars including Denise Van Outen, Kimberley Walsh, Kerry Ellis, Micheal Xavier and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.
This was another show I knew little about and I had only brought in tickets in a slightly biased form as a long-term Girls Aloud fan who was itching to catch Kimberley Walsh perform again. However the entire cast and story intrigued me and I love theatre and the excitement of not knowing what to expect.
The venue was beautiful and intimate, I was lucky to be second row with a prime-view but I think wherever you sat would have given you a great view.
The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra were lined-up towards the back of the stage and they began with the overture, I thought it was really special getting to pay attention to the musicians and for them to get the spotlight because often it’s easy to forget how much hard work is happening beneath the stage!
Then, out walked the beautiful Denise Van Outen, in a very short but glamorous jazz-style little black dress for the show to begin.
The story centred around Denise’s character “Charity” who was a young American woman working as a dance-hall hostess, with two of her close friends “Nickie” (Kimberley Walsh) and “Helene” (Kerry Ellis) and it showcased her struggles in finding love with a man that was right f or her and her lousy job that she felt stuck in.
The production was very scaled down as there was no sets therefore it was back-to-basics with the audience relying on the acting and their imagination which I found interesting, seeing something small budgeted and simple. It was also more of a concert-version with simplistic dialogue and acting, but a strong focus on the musical score.
Micheal Xavier (Phantom Of The Opera, Miss Saigon) and Kerry Ellis (Wicked, Les Mis, Miss Saigon, Cats) impressed me more than I expected (as I knew little about them pre-show). Especially Ellis, who was dancing and singing in heels despite being pregnant! I’ve seen Kimberley perform in Shrek and in Girls Aloud so I knew what to expect from her, but she shone as usual.
My only two minor disappointments were that Denise was often reading from a script on a stand, whereas you didn’t notice the other cast members doing this.
I want to forgive her though because she was the hold-together of the show with majority of the dialogue and an American accent, several songs and dance routines to focus on so I can understand the difficulty, especially being opening night (so she probably faced first-night nerves). I’m also aware that they only had one week of rehearsals, however Denise had her script for a month so should it be excused or not? I personally saw past it and her talent and beauty made up for it to me.
Also, as I didn’t know the story pre-show, the ending seemed rather abrupt and pessimistic but I guess it shows the reality of the fact not everything goes the way you want it to, but there’s still hope that one day it will. When you think about it, the story was good but I think the message could have been clarified or explained a little better.
Overall, I really enjoyed the show and was glad I saw it. Especially as I hadn’t paid a lot for the tickets due to a half-price offer, plus I managed to nab selfiies with Denise Van Outen and Kimberley Walsh post-show. I would definitely recommend if you don’t mind simplistic theatre or like the casting!