Take a nostalgic step back into the 1960s with Sweet Charity, Huddersfield Light Opera Company’s 105th production.
Hot on the heels of 42nd Street and Sister Act, the show, at the Lawrence Batley Theatre , promises well-known songs, vintage costumes, spectacular scenery and a live theatre band.
The backstage team has been working hard to create the all-important Sixties look for the production. Stage director Chris Brearley has designed a dance hall and elite night club backdrop with “lots of polished chrome”, and the wardrobe department has been scouring West Yorkshire’s charity shops to source individual outfits for an authentic look. Although the company only has 23 playing members the number of costumes has reached triple figures, so expect a 1960s fashion show as well as musical.
It is, says Chris, a production that offers “more challenges” than previous shows, but the company aims to sweep audiences away with the tender, funny and poignant story. “It’s not a show that’s not usually seen on the amateur stage,” he says, “so we’ve had to design a totally different set with a Sixties look. We couldn’t get anything off the peg.”
Sweet Charity, which had its Broadway premiere in 1966, has songs by the Tony award-winning composer Cy Coleman, including Big Spender and If My Friends Could See Me Now, as well as other iconic numbers.
Telling the story of a dance hostess called Charity Hope Valentine, the musical follows her misadventures as she attempts to find love. All is not plain sailing as the first man the audience sees her with is married; the second has a mistress and the third doesn’t like the fact that she is a dance hall hostess. Will Charity succeed in getting the man of her dreams, or any man at all?
In the HLOS production the leading role of Charity is filled by Zoe Clarkson, an accomplished stage performer from childhood and a former star of the musical Annie. After reading law at Lancaster University and completing a PGCE Zoe returned to the amateur operatic stage and has been a favourite of audiences in Huddersfield ever since. She’s now a Year 4 teacher at Lindley Junior School.
She is joined by other principals who will be familiar to HLOC regulars – Louisa Lefevre, Ella Midgley, Dom Moccia, Martin Stead, Neil Broadbent, Robin Walsh and Sharon Whitehead.
The show has the same production team as last year’s 42nd Street. Paul Bennett is producer; Pam Strickland, choreographer; Ian Abbott, musical director; and accompanist Emma Binns.
Tickets for the show, which opens on Tuesday, April 25, and ends on Saturday, April 29, (matinee on Saturday), are £12 to £18 from thelbt.org.uk or 01484 430528.