Sweet Charity
October 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 2008

CharityElle Barks
HeleneJennifer Hartshorne-Hesketh
NickieAnn Marie Squerrini
OscarTroy Cooper
Vittorio VidalMatt Walczer
UrsulaRebecca Knappenberger
HermanPaul Rossi
Mama BrubeckTraci Ceschin
Mama's Assistant #1Kerry McGuire
Mama's Assistant #2Fred Broadbent
Fandango Dancers
Lisa Suppan
Jennifer Dorn
Elizabeth Buss
Terry DeBiase
Patricia Welle
Rebecca Knappenberger
Syd Stauffer
Shalyn Baum
Fred Broadbent
Kelly Hartnett
Arielle Hartshorne-Hesketh
Rob Hesketh
Abby Masenheimer
Kerry McGuire
Hal Miers
Jessica Reich
Danielle Sanders
Troy Sanders
Julianna Squerrini
Erin Williams
Production Staff
Director/ChoreographerBill Mutimer
Assistant Director/CostumerBrenda McGuire
Music DirectorLarry Bachtell
Stage ManagerCheryl Wenhold
Set DesignerJaye Beetem
Lighting DesignerDan Lewis

Cast Photos
Click on any image for a larger version, if available.


'Charity' is sweet fun at Pennsylvania Playhouse

Somewhere between Lily Tomlin's fresh-mouthed 5-year-old alter-ego Edith Ann and ''Three's Company's'' ditsy blonde bombshell Chrissy lies Elle Barks' Charity Hart Valentine, the perky protagonist of Pennsylvania Playhouse's ''Sweet Charity.'' Barks brings wholesome charm -- and breathless euphoria -- to the role of the dance hall hostess with big dreams.

Though the young Muhlenberg College dance and theater major lacks the stamina to effectively belt ''If They Could See Me Now'' while frolicking athletically, she delivers the show's comic hits with delicious flair. Whether falling out of a closet, getting knocked flat by pedestrians or plummeting into an off-stage lake, Barks' forte is her physical humor, and the show's patter slides off her tongue with ease.

A potpourri of characters share the stage with Barks, from petite, lollipop-licking subway passengers to a bevy of mostly older-but-wiser dance hall girls. The dance hall's ''golden girls'' are a treat, serving up a deadpan ''Big Spender'' with a heavy side of sarcasm. Ann Marie Squerrini, with her New Yawk flava, is a scene stealer as Charity's best friend Nickie. Matthew Walczer delights as romantic Hollywood has-been Vittorio Vidal. Golden-voiced Troy Cooper is a perfectly geeky Oscar Lindquist, the neurotic nerd who falls for Charity before handing her another romantic disappointment.

''Rhythm of Life'' is performed with over-the-top groove by Traci Ceschin as Mama Brubeck. Paired with far-out assistants Kerry McGuire and Fred Broadbent and retro dancers, the energetic number is a high point. Several scenes slow things down, however, including the endless end of Act One in which Charity and Oscar are stuck in an elevator.

Director Bill Mutimer's choreography is delightful, and music director Larry Bachtall's virtual orchestra is surprisingly effective. It might have been fun to spotlight Bachtall's computerized keyboard wizardry nearer to the stage rather than behind the audience.

''Sweet Charity,'' 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, through Oct. 19, Pennsylvania Playhouse, Illick's Mill Road, Bethlehem. Tickets: $20; $17, seniors and students (Fridays, Saturdays only). 610-865-6665, http://www.paplayhouse.org .

Diana Morse is a freelance writer.


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