Third time is the charm for the Theatre Department
After unsuccessful attempts to stage “Spring Awakening” and “Chicago”, a new winner is “Sweet Charity.”
For their bi-annual fall musical, Hamline’s theatre department had originally set out to perform “Spring Awakening.” Based on the classic 1906 German play of the same name, the 2006 rock musical tells the story of a group of young teens coming of age in late 19th-century Germany and was performed once before at Hamline several years ago.
However, fewer men than originally anticipated auditioned as there were twice as many male roles in “Spring Awakening” as there were men who tried out for the production. The department viewed this as a dilemma due to the show’s heavy focus on sexuality. Concerns arose across the board that it would seem inauthentic to have women portraying adolescent boys in such a raw context.
As a result, a production of “Chicago,” a jazzy 1975 musical about women who murdered their significant others, was cast instead. The 13 actors who were chosen met for the first time on the evening of Tuesday, September 26, and the department believed that by Thursday, September 28, they would receive a final confirmation of the rights to stage the show. However, due to a current national tour, the rights to “Chicago” proved to be unavailable.
“By Saturday [September 30], we decided we were going to have to put on a different show,” said Stage Manager Emily “Remi” Remmey, a junior double-majoring in theatre and business, of their journey back to square one.
She explained that “a bunch of titles were thrown out,” but ultimately, choreographer James Kunz asserted that “Sweet Charity” should be the selected musical, as he saw its music and dance styles as being closest to those of “Chicago.”
Directed by newcomer Natalie Novacek, “Sweet Charity,” not to be confused with “Sweet Caroline,” tells the tale of Charity Hope Valentine (portrayed by first-year Kia Brown, who was originally supposed to play the lead in “Chicago”), a young, optimistic “taxi dancer,” or paid dance partner, living in New York City. The musical follows her quest to find true love with a man who will accept her unconditionally, in spite of the seemingly unwholesome nature of her occupation.
“The cast has been extremely understanding, raved Remmey. “This was a really fast turnaround, but they’re picking up [the musical] very quickly in the short amount of time that we have… All the shops are working really hard and we’re very excited.” As she spoke, Kunz began to teach the ensemble the choreography for “Rhythm of Life,” a fervent, upbeat number which takes place at the beginning of the second act.
“Sweet Charity” will be performed on November 10, 11, 16, 17, and 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Anne Simley Theatre located in Drew Fine Arts. Other upcoming student productions include “Rabbit Hole” (directed by Jeff Turner), which will be held in early March, and student-directed showcases “Frankenstein” and “Antigone,” which can been seen in late April. All Hamline students are welcome to audition for productions, regardless of their intended major.