Monday, August 1, 2011

Peak Performances and their Awkward Sexual Moments: Sweet Charity

Sweet Charity-February 2011-L. Howard Fox Theatre 

Sweet Charity was one of the more heartwarming shows I’ve seen on campus so far. Because it is such a well-known show, it is no wonder why it sold out very quickly. It was also very tame, so the awkward sexual moments were very subtle and quite possibly unnoticeable. It was one of those shows you could watch with the whole family. However, the sexual moments were there. I am proud to kick off the Spring 2011 Semester of “Peak Performances and their Awkward Sexual Moments” with Sweet Charity.

*Beware of Spoilers*

Charlie: The main goal of heroine Charity Hope Valentine is to find love, and it is suggested in the opening song that she has found love in a man named Charlie. Throughout the show we meet three of Charity’s love interests, Charlie being the first. Well, actually, we don’t exactly “meet” him. That’s what makes him awkward. He doesn’t have any lines. Throughout the entire number his back is toward the audience as he smokes a cigarette. He just stands there as Charity hangs all over him and sings to him about the glamorous life they will lead together. Just by his suspicious actions, we know there is something off with this guy and that he is not altogether “good.” Our assumptions are proven correct when he robs Charity, causing her to fall into a lake, and we never see him again.

“Big Spender”: Charity and the rest of her friends work at the Fandango Hall as dance hall hostesses. These same women deliver that famous musical number "Big Spender." Now, from what I saw, this Fandango Hall isn’t entirely a bad place. A guy comes in, chooses one of the girls, and then dances and spends time with her. However, Charity makes it a point throughout the play to state just how bad this place is. Are we supposed to assume that it is the equivalent of a gentleman’s club then? I ask this because even though there is no reference to actual sexual action when it comes to the Fandango Hall, Charity makes it seem like there is by how she talks about the place. The women just dance with the men who enter the hall. And it’s not even any dirty dancing or lap dancing either. They would just slow dance. Is it really that bad? I mean, I realize that the place can be sexist and I got offended with how each customer summoned a girl, but I guess what I’m saying is it could be worse. Charity’s third and final love interest and fiance, Oscar Lindquist, gets all upset when he discovers that Charity works there, for Charity was hesitant in telling him and he found out by accident. When he does finally “accept” it, he finds that he can’t go through with their wedding because he finds it uncomfortable to think about. He originally thought that Charity was virginal and pure, but after he saw her laughing and smiling with another man, his view of her completely changed. Well, we haven’t really established if Charity is a virgin or not, so perhaps Oscar is kind of overreacting here. Just because she dances with men she is no longer pure in Oscar eyes? That’s kind of offensive, isn’t it? However, I do understand though where he does not want his girl involved with any other man. Are we supposed to assume then that these women have sex with the men they dance with? Now that’s a totally different story and Oscar's feelings are pretty plausible. This is what I mean when I say sexual moments in Sweet Charity are very unnoticeable at first. We are never given the full picture and a lot of questions are left unanswered.

Vittorio Vidal: Vittorio Vidal is love interest number two and also a sexy Italian movie star whom Charity admires. She runs into him when he is fighting with his girlfriend Ursula and is invited to a party with him instead to spite Ursula. However, by the end of the night, Ursula returns full of apologies and horniness, so the two makes sweet passionate love in Vittorio’s apartment while Charity spends the night in his closet, initiating one of the more hilarious scenes of the play. The following morning Vittorio releases her from his closet. Before she leaves, Charity compliments his sexual talents, saying that he is good in the movies, but is better in real life, suggesting that she was watching.

What is the point of this character? He serves absolutely nothing to the plot. A good portion of the middle of the show is dedicated to him, and yet nothing stems from the “relationship” between he and Charity. From what I can think of, his presence serves as comic relief and an opportunity for a song (Charity sings the famous “If My Friends Could See Me Now” during one of these scenes). It just seems like his scenes are completely random and unnecessary. I guess he is needed to make you think that something would develop between he and Charity, but if the story cut him out and we jumped from Charlie to Oscar, nothing against Vittorio, but it wouldn’t have been much of a loss. The story would have been complete without him.

For The Montclarion article about Sweet Charity, click here.

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