Review - Sweet Charity (In Concert at Cadogan Hall)

On the 21st August, I was invited by a friend to see a concert performance of the popular musical Sweet Charity at Cadogan Hall. I was familiar with the music of Sweet Charity (having covered a large number of the songs in my singing lessons) but had never seen the musical as a whole. Intrigued, I went in knowing very little about the story.
In short, Sweet Charity follows a young taxi dancer named Charity Hope Valentine, a lady with several unhappy relationships behind her, as she searches for romance in New York City. It's a fun tale full of ups and downs, coincidences which could only be found in musicals, and a ton of wonderful, recognisable songs.
As the title character, Denise Van Outen was charismatic and likable, with a strong singing voice and engaging stage presence. The way she kept looking out at the audience and sharing her thoughts and feelings with them ensured that everyone was fully on her side. Although the concert format of the show allowed for script usage, Denise (who had by far the biggest part and the most lines to learn) barely glanced at it throughout the show. This allowed for a smooth , evenly paced show (unlike the extremely long, drawn out How To Succeed In Business concert, which I saw earlier this year, where scripts were relied on much more heavily!
Michael Xavier, who I had previously had the privilege of seeing in Assassins earlier this year, was yet again one of the most impressive highlights of the show. His voice was fantastic and he absolutely nailed his character's comedic moments. For me, he absolutely stole the show!
In the roles of Nickie and Helene, two taxi dancers and Charity's best friends at the club where they all work,  pop star Kimberley Walsh and West End star Kerry Ellis gave lovely performances. I did think that they were rather underused, especially as their duet Baby, Dream Your Dream was a sweet song full of gorgeous harmonies, but this is an issue with the book rather than the specific production. Overall, I found their scenes very enjoyable. The same can also be said for Rodney Earl Clarke as Daddy Brubeck. His song, The Rhythm of Life, was definitely one of the most memorable songs of the evening, and without doubt received the biggest round of applause. It was an electrifying, intense and quite hilarious opening to act 2 that really took everyone by surprise.
I was also thrilled by the performances of the ensemble members, comprising of Arts Ed students. They all gave top notch, professional performances and held their own next to the other, more seasoned performers on stage. Of course, this is exactly what you'd expect from students studying at one of the most prestigious drama schools in the UK, but it was exciting to think that those young actors will no doubt be cropping up everywhere once they've graduated.
All in all, I found the evening hugely enjoyable. The cast was first rate, the music (provided by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra) was excellent, the musical itself was very enjoyable, and it was great to see a semi-staged production of a show which hasn't been seen on the West End since 2011!
Verdict - 4 stars
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