OCEANSIDE — The life of New York City taxi dancer Charity Hope Valentine is the focus of Oceanside Theatre’s upcoming production of “Sweet Charity,” a Neil Simon-penned Broadway musical. The show originally premiered in 1966 and won the Tony award for Best Choreography and won four more for the show’s Broadway revival in 1986.
The play was inspired by Italian director Federico Fellini’s film “Nights of Cabiria,” which was about a prostitute searching for true love. Simon changed the character to a “hopelessly romantic but comically unfortunate dance hall hostess,” per the Oceanside Theatre. Throughout the musical, Charity (Kalin Booker) confronts various life setbacks with a sense of hope and optimism.
“Charity is a hopeful, spirited woman,” said Oceanside local and actor Tanner Vidos, who performs in the show. “Even though every guy around her takes advantage of her naivety, she keeps her head held up high and doesn’t let her self-confidence go out the window. Her story is one of self-perseverance. I think everyone can get behind that.
Vidos does double duty as the occasionally vain but never villainous B-movie actor Vittorio Vidal, and as the cult-like figure of Daddy Brubeck. Vidal is Italian, and Vidos practiced his accent for the character by listening to Stage Manager Charmaine Reed’s partner, who was born in Italy and has a thick accent.
“So, we were able to bring him in, and I was able to record him saying my lines and he was able to tell me how a true Italian would approach the lines regarding inflection and intention,” Vidos said. “Without that, my character wouldn’t be what he is today, so I am grateful for that. Also had a lot of YouTube Italian accent tutorials playing in my car on the way to work.”
Vittorio is an international film star, so his presence is commanding and he knows he’s usually the coolest guy in the room. “However (he) does not exalt himself above everyone else, so there is a splash of humility there which I enjoy exploring,” Vidos said. “However, his pettiness shows when he is arguing with his lover, Ursula. When they are fighting, there is a need to gain the higher ground and make her jealous, which is a less redeemable quality.”
Even though the protagonist confronts much adversity, including her own feelings toward Vidal, Vidos said that “the show is super up-beat, silly and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s also a very female-driven show, so that will be refreshing to see that dynamic in (a) show that was written in the 20th century. Also, the score is very unique. It’s jazzy and risqué. Overall, it is a dark comedy.”
The show starts its run on March 6 at the Oceanside Theatre Company and will play until March 29. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Ticket prices range from $19 to $49.