Bath Operatic and Dramatic Society presents Neil Simon’s musical comedy Sweet Charity at the Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 2nd May to Saturday 6th May featuring a score packed with show-stopping hit songs including Rhythm of Life, Big Spender and If They Could See Me Now.
Charity Hope Valentine is a dance club hostess in the Fandango Night Club. An eternal optimist, she just wants to be loved, but keeps on falling for the wrong guy. Finally, she seems to have met a decent fellow in shy Oscar, but will he still love her tomorrow when he discovers that she’s not actually a bank clerk!
This much-loved musical premiered on Broadway in 1966, where it was nominated for nine Tony Awards. The original production was directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse and starred his wife Gwen Verdon. Sweet Charity has been revived on Broadway and in the West End numerous times; some of the many famous actresses who have played the central role of Charity Hope Valentine include Shirley MacLaine, who also starred in the 1969 film, and Tamsin Outhwaite.
Bath Operatic and Dramatic Society’s (BODS) production of Sweet Charity is presented by a 48-strong company of local talent, aged from 14 to 63 years. The cast members hail from Bath, Bristol, Wiltshire and Somerset. One of the most acclaimed and well established amateur companies in the region, BODS return to the Theatre Royal Bath following their recent Rose Bowl Award-nominated productions of Hairspray in 2015, The Witches of Eastwick in 2014 and last year’s much-praised staging of West Side Story.
The lead role of Charity Hope Valentine is played Lydia Marsh who, by day, works as Operations Assistant at the Theatre Royal Bath. This is Lydia’s fourth show with BODS, having previously played Mrs Lyons in Blood Brothers and the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods at the Julian Slade Theatre, and Graziella in West Side Story at the Theatre Royal. In Bath, Lydia has also appeared in the musical Urinetown with Spare Room Theatre Company and performed in Company at The Rondo, in a co-production by the Pro-Act and Merriman companies last year.
“I love working at the Theatre Royal and making sure that audiences have a great time. It is both incredibly exciting and a little terrifying to now be thrust into the spotlight at my place of work. Charity is a wonderful character to play: she’s abundantly energetic, self-assured, witty, and in spite of everything the show throws at her, ever-hopeful. Roles like Charity don’t come around often and I really hope I do her justice! I couldn’t have asked for a more splendid, talented cast to work alongside.”
Lydia’s Theatre Royal Bath colleague Tony Cicirello, who works as an usher in the Front of House team, will be joining her on stage. Appearing as Daddy Brubeck, the charismatic leader of the Rhythm of Life church, Tony returns to the Theatre Royal stage after playing Bernardo in BODS’ 2016 show West Side Story.
“This is a jewel of a show, moving, funny and tugs at your heart strings with wonderful music and dancing. My love of performing on the Theatre Royal’s stage hasn’t dimmed since I first stepped out on it with BODS almost 20 years ago. I started working at the Theatre Royal when I was 17 and have learned so, so much just from watching various actors performing at the venue. To experience both sides of the curtain is priceless, I’m a very lucky man.”
The role of Oscar Lindquist, who befriends Charity and eventually steals her heart, is played by Aled Davies. Nickie and Helene, Charity’s closest friends and fellow dancers at the Fandango Ballroom, are played by Madeleine Woolgar and Rosie May Cook. Their boss, Herman, the owner of the Fandango Ballroom, is played by Dave Key-Pugh. The role of film star, Vittorio Vidal, is played by Richard Pugh and Vittorio’s girlfriend, Ursula March, is played by Elena Lawson. Also joining the cast on stage is Peggy Schnoddle, an 11-month old poodle and schnauzer cross, who makes her stage debut in Sweet Charity.
Director Tristan Carter returns to Bath Operatic and Dramatic Society after directing the company’s 2016 staging of West Side Story, The Witches of Eastwick in 2014 and BODS’s 2013 Rose Bowl Award-winning production of The Mikado at the Theatre Royal Bath. Head of Acting at Curtain Up Theatre School, Tristan has also performed professionally on tour and in the West End. Recently in Bath, he played Sweaty Eddie in Sister Act for Bath Light Operatic Group and Edna Turnbald in Hairspray for Bath Operatic and Dramatic Society.
Choreography is by Sammy Farrell and Alison Pritchard. Sammy Farrell has danced internationally and toured the UK, as well as teaching dance. Whilst growing up in Bath she danced with The Dorothy Coleborn School of Dance, before training with English National Ballet and London Studio Centre. Last year, Sammy’s choreography for BODS’s production of West Side Story won the Walter Hawkins Award for Creativity and Design at the 2016 Rose Bowl Awards.
Sweet Charity features a professional orchestra conducted by musical director Peter Blackwood, who has directed music for over 200 theatre productions. His many credits include the acclaimed community play, The Day That War Broke Out in Bristol which was staged at Temple Meads. He has worked extensively with BODS, most recently as Musical Director for West Side Story, The Witches of Eastwick, Jesus Christ Superstar, Oliver! and The Wizard of Oz.
Established in 1894, and originally called Bath Amateurs, Bath Operatic and Dramatic Society’s (BODS) illustrious history includes many acclaimed performances. In 2013 BODS won the Rose Bowl Award for Best Opera for their production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, and in 2014 they were nominated for The Witches of Eastwick. Other much praised recent BODS productions include Oliver! in 2009, which won the regional National Operatic and Dramatic Association Award for excellence; The Wizard of Oz in 2012; Guys and Dolls in 2011; and Snoopy, winner of NODA’s Award for Best Musical Production.
BODS present Sweet Charity at the Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 2nd to Saturday 6th May. Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 and online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk