Monday, February 14, 2005

Miss Valentine

No, this isn't a post about Brainstorming, the new all-female MOB blog. The title refers to Charity Hope Valentine, the lead in the new Broadway musical "Sweet Charity," currently playing in pre-Broadway run at the Orpheum.

One of the great things about the Twin Cities is that you can see all the attractions of an enormously big city, while the annoyances are somewhat less. Broadway theater productions are relatively rare here, but they do come occasionally. It's a big enough deal that the wife and I decided to take each to the show Saturday night as our Valentine's Day present to each other.

I am a theater novice, having recently seen "Phantom of the Opera" and "The Producers", but little else. Phantom and the Producers were long past Broadway when I saw them and the lead roles had long since been replaced. That's not the case with Charity, as it will open on Broadway this spring with the current cast.

Christina Applegate plays the title role. Yeah, she's Kelley Bundy. I was skeptical, especially since the opening song, a powerful production of "Big Spender" failed to feature her singing talents. She quickly proved me wrong. She can belt it out, and is also a terrific dancer. By her second tune, I had forgotten about Kelley Bundy and became completely immersed in a bittersweet love story that isn't your usual "Pretty Woman" type pabulum.

Of course, this play was written by Neil Simon, which means it is funny and at times touching. My only complaint was with a musical number called "The Rhythm of Life." I remembered it from my youth as a funky, bass-driven song with forceful, but not overbearing vocals. The main singer on this version just didn't seem to flow with his musical accompaniment. However, that is a minor nitpick. In contrast, "If They Could See Me Now" used to invoke in me memories of Kathy Lee Gifford and Carnival Cruise Ships. Applegate thankfully blew that image away with a powerful performance.

The best part was the ending, which I won't reveal. However, (POSSIBLE SPOILER) those of you who know how I generally feel about love stories should consider that I found this to be the perfect show to catch for Valentine's Day.


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