Play the Songs
Have you ever known a girl who wanted something so badly that she tried too hard to get it? Meet Charity, the girl who wants to be loved so much that she has lost sight of who she is. Charity sings, dances, laughs and cries her way through romances with the “animal magnetism” hero, the “ultra-chic continental” hero, and the “impossible-to believe-but-he’s-better than nothing” type hero. Her world is the all too real world of Times Square, and the people who pass through her world are as deceptively charming a group as ever swept across any stage. From her cynical, hard-core trio of girlfriends at the dance hall, to the phony evangelist, the Coney Island “fun people,” the Central Park “strollers” and the YMHA “self-improvers,” every character is interesting. This is a bright and sophisticated show in every sense. Cy Coleman has captured the rhythms and sounds, and Dorothy Fields the vernacular and fun of New York. It’s a comedy in every sense of the word. Neil Simon has a particular talent for looking at the truly amusing side of life. It’s a dancing show too, with great opportunity for use of dramatic movement. Wonderful musical numbers include Big Spender, If My Friends Could See Me Now, Too Many Tomorrows, There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This, I’m a Brass Band and Baby, Dream Your Dream.
*Music samples provided courtesy of Jay Records and Notable Music Co.
- Rehearsal Materials
- Cast List
- Brief History
SWEET CHARITY is a tender, poignant and consistently funny look at the adventures, or rather the misadventures, in the ways of love encountered by the gullible and guileless lady known as Charity Hope Valentine. Charity is a dance hostess who always gives her heart and her dreams to the wrong man.
We meet Charity when she is involved with a married man, whom she hopes will be her fiancé just as soon as he divorces his wife. She meets him in the park where she sings of her fondness of him -You Should See Yourself, but he does not reciprocate her kind sentiments with any sweet talk. She fantasizes about the wonderful life they will share when they are married, and even plans to buy furniture for their future home. When she romantically suggests her love throw something into the beautiful lake for good luck, he catches her off guard. Instead of tossing in the traditional coin and making a wish, he throws her in and steals her purse which contains her life savings. Poor Charity is pulled out of the lake by a passer-by, and reports her misfortune to the police.
Back at the Fan-Dango ballroom where she works, Charity admits once again to her girlfriends that she let another man take advantage of her. The night at the dance hall begins with Big Spender and Charity suddenly runs out of the dance hall; she vows to never fall for another man and let him get her hopes up for a happy ending -Charity’s Soliloquy.
Walking in the street Charity is caught in the middle of a fight between Vittorio Vidal, the famous film star, and his mistress Ursala. Charity lets Vidal take her into the lavish Pompeii Club for the evening -Rich Man’s Frug. Vidal talks of Ursala the whole night and uses Charity as an escort. She calls her girlfriends at the Fan-Dango ballroom, and has Vittorio talk to them to prove she is out with the celebrity. In all of the excitement, Charity faints. Vittorio brings her to his apartment, where she recovers. She sings If My Friends Could See Me Now, and just as Charity is about to make a move on Vittorio, they are interrupted by Ursala. Charity ends up hiding from Ursala in a closet-like armoire all night. She hears Vittorio sing Too Many Tomorrows to Ursala, tries smoking a cigarette in the armoire, and finally peaks out from her hiding place and just watches the couple. In the ultimate insulting gesture, Vittorio brings Charity out of the closet the next morning while Ursala is still there to see her leave.
Charity’s girlfriends at the dance hall are shocked that Charity did not receive a substantial monetary gift from Vittorio. They all dream of a better life -There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This. The same night Charity tries to meet new people by going to the local YMCA. She gets stuck in an elevator with a claustrophobic tax accountant named Oscar, and she sings I’m The Bravest Individual to give him courage.
Oscar takes an interest in Charity, and invites her to his Rhythm of Life Church. The Church evolved from a jazz music group, and its congregants include people down on their luck -The Rhythm of Life. Before the service starts, the police break up the meeting. Charity and Oscar get to know each other more. For some unknown reason to Charity, Oscar thinks she is a bank teller. She likes this idea, so decides not to clarify what she really does for a living. Charity falls for Oscar, and is soon fantasizing a nice life with him -Baby, Dream Your Dream. She knows she must tell Oscar what she really does for a living, but the right opportunity never seems to come up. At Coney Island they get stuck for a second time together, this time on the parachute jump. Oscar has a chance to comfort his Sweet Charity this time.
Charity decides to quit her job at the Fan-Dango -Where Am I Going? She finally gets the nerve up to tell Oscar that she is a dance hall hostess, but can’t look him in the eye when she tells him the truth. She is surprised to find out that he already knew the truth; he had followed her there one night and stayed to watch. Oscar tells Charity that he can forget about her old job, and he proposes to her. Charity celebrates with I’m A Brass Band. Her boss and co-workers sing I Love To Cry At Weddings. Finally Charity will live happily ever after! But Oscar breaks the engagement; he tried but just can’t forget that Charity had been a dance hall hostess and had been with other men before they met. As they are walking through the park, Charity trying to save the relationship, Oscar trying to end it, Oscar makes his point by throwing Charity into the lake. This particular lake is bad luck for Charity. As she pulls herself out of the water, a Good Fairy appears and says to Charity, “Tonight, it will all happen tonight.” Charity is again overcome by hope and optimism for finding her true love, until the Good Fairy turns around. There is a sign on the Fairy’s back which reads “THE GOOD FAIRY – tonight at 8 p.m. on CBS.”
Book by Neil Simon
Music by Cy Coleman
Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Based on an original screenplay by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Plaiano
Produced for the Broadway Stage by Fryer, Carr and Harris
Conceived, Staged and Choreographed by Bob Fosse
3 Violins I & II
1 Reed I: Piccolo, Flute, Alto Flute (or Clarinet), Clarinet & Alto Sax
1 Reed II: Piccolo, Flute, Alto Flute (or Clarinet), Clarinet & Alto Sax
1 Reed III: Oboe, Clarinet & Tenor Sax
1 Reed IV: Flute (or Clarinet), Clarinet, Bass Clarinet & Tenor Sax
1 Reed V: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet (or Bassoon), Bassoon, and Baritone Sax
1 Trumpet I & II (double Flügelhorns)
1 Trumpet III
1 Trumpet IV
1 Trombone I
1 Trombone II
1 Trombone III
2 Percussion I & II:
Timpani (2 Drums)
Snare Drum (Brushes & Sticks)
Military Snare Drum
Bells (Soft & Hard Mallets)
Wood Blocks (Small & Large)
Tambourine (Small & Large)
Castanets (Stick & Finger)
1 Guitar I – Guitar, Electric Guitar and Hand Cymbals
1 Guitar II – Bass Guitar, Guitar & Electric Guitar
Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material.
(There is no Piano in the orchestration)
1 Piano Conductor’s Score
1 Prompt Book
3 Prompt Books for Principal Characters
33 Dialogue Parts
35 Chorus-Vocal Parts
(4 female; 4 male)
Charity Hope Valentine
2 Assistants to Brubeck
Charlie — also Voice on Tape
First Passerby — also Man Panhandler
First Young Man — also Marvin
Married Woman — also First Woman
Married Man — also Manfred
Woman with Hat — also Woman Panhandler and Good Fairy
Ice Cream Vendor ±— also Second Man Panhandler
Second Young Man — also Waiter
Second Woman — also Second Woman Panhandler
Baseball Player — also Man Waiting for Elevator
Girl — also Information Booth Girl
Man with a Dog — also Doorman
Dirty Old Man — also Barney
First Cop — also Policeman
Second Cop — also Cop
92nd Street Y Patrons
Rhythm of Life Church Congregation
Coney Island People
Fan-Dango Ballroom Customers and Employees
The original Broadway production had a cast of 30 performers, including chorus. Doubling was employed, including as indicated above.
SWEET CHARITY played for 608 performances on Broadway at the Palace Theatre starring Gwen Verdon, John McMartin, Helen Gallagher and Thelma Oliver. It played for 476 performances in London at the Prince of Wales Theatre. It was revived on Broadway in 1986 and played for 369 performances at the Minskoff Theatre starring Debbie Allen, Michael Rupert, Bebe Neuwirth and Allison Williams. In 2005, the show was revived again at the Al Hirshfeld Theatre starring Christina Applegate, Denis O’Hare, Ernie Sabella and Paul Schoeffler.
The Tony Award for Choreographer
The Outer Critics Circle Award for Performance
4 Tony Awards for Revival, Costume Designer, Featured Actor and Featured Actress
The Drama Desk Award for Featured Actor
The Outer Critics Circle Award for Choreography