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Sweet Charity

On This Page: Commentary . DVD . Cast Recordings . Sheet Music

The Writing of Sweet Charity

Noel KatzCommentary and writing tips by Noel Katz

It sounds like it might be depressing: a tart-with-heart gets mistreated by various men. One pushes her off the Bow Bridge into Central Park Lake and steals her money. Another forces her to hide in a closet for an entire night. Her fiancé breaks their engagement. And her job is no picnic either: shes a taxi-dancer, one who dances with strange, groping men for meager pay.

But Sweet Charity is not depressing. Its vibrant and joyous. Its creators felt that people come to a Broadway show to be entertained, to lift their spirits, and they managed to tell this pitiable tale with a remarkable emphasis on the positive.

Most of these ideas for bursts-of-excitement came from director and first-draft-librettist Bob Fosse, who was creating the show as a vehicle for his wife, Gwen Verdon. Verdon gave him something of a head start. She was a star audiences instantly loved, cared about, and, in her many musicals, she found the cheerier sides of things. When Neil Simon was called in to rewrite the book, his comedy, as well as his finding voice for the male lead, also lightened the tone.

Some examples: When a man says I love you to Charity for the first time, Fosse and the songwriters Dorothy Fields and Cy Coleman expand upon the moment with a fantasy sequence. Charity compares herself to a brass band (all kinds of music is pouring out of me)and the chorus dances on in band uniforms. When Charity and her two co-workers consider leaving the dance hall, Coleman fires up the energy with a fiery Spanish waltz and, of course, a brilliant Fosse dance trio.

Whats even more impressive is the specificity and use of slang in Fields lyrics. She was around 60 at the time the show opened, considered something of a has-been and a nice old lady. Could she come up with vocabulary that would sound contemporary and apt for a prostitute?Examine If My Friends Could See Me Now for the answer. Its full of phrases that are funny, New York-y, and sound exactly right coming from Charitys mouth: Im eating fancy chow, Tonight I landed, pow!Right in a pot of jam, and Hear my buddies saying: Crazy, what gives?Tonight she's living like the other half lives!

Fosse, Simon, Coleman, Fields and Verdon all worked together to make Sweet Charity an evening of energetic delights, never dragged down by the many unhappy (and unsavory) aspects of its plot.

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DVD

Sweet Charity DVDSweet Charity (DVD) from Amazon.com 1969 film version starring Shirley MacLaine and directed by Bob Fossee. This film marked the film directorial debut of Bob Fossee, one of the most successful Broadway musical directors of his time. Cast includes Chita Rivera and Sammy Davis Jr.

Cast Recordings

Sweet Charity Original CastSweet Charity: A New Musical Comedy (1966 Original Broadway Cast) from Amazon.com Starring Gwen Verdon and Helen Gallagher. Songs include: Overture, Charity's Theme, You Should See Yourself, Big Spender, Charity's Soliloquy, Rich Man's Frug (Extended Verion - First Release), If My Friends Could See Me Now, Too Many Tomorrows, There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This, I'm The Bravest Individual, The Rhythm Of Life, Baby, Dream Your Dream, Sweet Charity, Where Am I Going?, I'm A Brass Band, I Love To Cry At Weddings, Finale: If My Friends Could See Me Now, I Love To Cry At Weddings (First Release), You Wanna Bet, and Where Am I Going?

Sweet Charity SoundtrackSweet Charity (1969 Film Soundtrack) from Amazon.com Songs include: Overture, My Personal Property, Big Spender, The Pompeii Club, If My Friends Could See Me Now, There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This, It's A Nice Face, Rhythm Of Life, Sweet Charity, I'm A Brass Band, I Love To Cry At Weddings, Where Am I Going?, and Finale

Sweet Charity Revival CastSweet Charity (2005 Broadway Revival Cast) from Amazon.com Starring Christina Applegate and Dennis O'Hare. Songs include: Overture, You Should See Yourself, Big Spender, Charity's Soliloquy, Rich Man's Frug, If My Friends Could See Me Now, Too Many Tomorrows, There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This, I'm The Bravest Individual, Entr' Acte, The Rhythm Of Life, A Good Impression, Baby, Dream Your Dream, Sweet Charity, Where Am I Going?, I'm A Brass Band, I Love To Cry At Weddings, I'm The Bravest Individual (Reprise), Where Am I Going? (Verse), Baby, Dream Your Dream, Gimme A Rain Check, I'm The Bravest Individual, There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This, and Big Spender

Sweet Charity Sheet Music

"If My Friends Could See Me Now!" from Musicnotes.com Instant digital download sheet music.

"Big Spender" from Musicnotes.com Instant digital download sheet music.

"There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This" from Musicnotes.com Instant digital download sheet music.

Sweet Charity (Vocal Selections): Piano/Vocal/Chords Songs include: If My Friends Could See Me Now!, Big Spender, There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This, Baby Dream Your Dream, I Love To Cry At Weddings, I'm A Brass Band, I'm The Bravest Individual I Have Ever Met, The Rhythm Of Life, Charity's Theme, Sweet Charity, Too Many Tomorrows, Where Am I Going, And You Should See Yourself

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