Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera, Sept. 26, 1997" KDB September 27, 1997

The Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera's "Sweet Charity" is a Bob Fosse dance extravaganza from start to finish. We open with a swaggering jazz number in "The Park by the Lake," into which Charity is pushed by her boyfriend, as he steals her purse. We have signs that drop down from the ceiling, telling us that this is "The Story of a Girl who Wanted to be Loved." For the most part the sets consist of four proscenium arches, at different angles and depths, each with a row of lights, to effectively set the action on a stage. An occasionally lighted billboard above the stage gives guidance, with words such as: "The Proposal" or "The Elevator." We have projections on a backdrop for Coney Island and the New York City-scape, with elegantly simple sets for Vittorio Vidal's apartment and Barney's hacienda. The girls of The Fan-Dango Ballroom do a chorus line bump and grind on a bar to "Big Spender." We have a lot of tight dresses, short skirts, and tuxedos as the dancers strut and shimmy. The story takes place in 1966, and in "The Rhythm of Life" we have a jazz group from San Francisco that became a religion and is holding it's services in Central Park. We have the tie-dyed hippies in a multi-layered dance ensemble piece that is one of the best in the show. Patti Colombo is an absolute knock-out as Charity Hope Valentine. She's vibrant and alive and just dominates the stage with her presence. She's determined to find love and get out of the Fan-Dango. We soar with her hopes, cry with her setbacks, as she sings and dances her way out of trouble. She brings down the house in the electrifying show-stopper "If my Friends Could See Me Now!" This show has a lot to like, but if it had nothing else, Patti Colombo alone would be worth the price of admission as "Sweet Charity." Alberto Stevans is a strong honey-voiced Vidal in "Too Many Tomorrows," while Donna Marie Asbury and Nicole Powell sing the beautiful duet "Baby Dream your Dream." We have Reece Holland's smooth, passionate "Sweet Charity," to round out the musical highlights. This is a thoroughly uplifting and entertaining production of "Sweet Charity" by The Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera at The Granada Theater.


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