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Be Ready to be Surprised: Sweet Charity

It is really rare that I'll see something that will surprise me, something that I don't expect,  something that will leave me speechless and stunned.  I was never been so surprised that until now, I still can't believe what I experienced last Thursday night.

I saw 9 Works Theatrical's latest show, Sweet Charity.  Mind you the show is spectacularly sexy, breathtaking, invigorating and fabulous.  The iconic "Big Spender" production number excites me a lot and definitely the best number on the entire show.

The Ladies of Fandango: Sheree Bautista (Carmen), Ciara Sotto (Helene), Carmelle Ross, Sheila Valderama (Nickie) and Chinie Nepomuceno
Just like what I'm expecting the company consisting of both new and seasoned performers delivered a magnificent performance including the title role played by Nikki Gil who's enthusiasm and energy resonates on her dialogues, songs and dance moves.  I'm so happy to see her very much improved since her last theater debut as Elle Woods in Atlantis Productions' Legally Blonde.  Now she is perkier and more alive than ever.  I enjoyed every minute of her performance specially the number she performed in Vittorio Vidal's appartment (If My Friends Could See Me Now).  Nikki totally embodies Charity's playful nature that makes her fun to watch.

Nikki Gil (Charity) and Kris Lawrence (Oscar) during the Media call

Other than Nikki, another cast member deserves his rightful recognition for giving a phenomenal and surprising performance as one of the lead characters.  I admit, I'm one of those who are doubtful of Kris Lawrence's acting skills.  Though I already saw and experienced watching theater newbies from the past (like Gian, Ciara and Sheree), I treat Kris differently because I never saw him doing any acting job (Music Videos not counted).  But when I saw Kris' first scene in Sweet Charity, he instantly caught my attention as well as the rest of the audience because he is flawless, spontaneous and hysterically funny.  Somehow I feel so bad because I judged him too soon but at the same time I'm glad he proved it that he can show it straight to my face that I'm wrong.  Kudos to you, Kris.

Of course the whole show is nothing without the whole cast which is comprised by some of my favorite dance gurus like Francis Matheu, Anthony Ong, Job Bautista and Chinie Nepomuceno.  New faces (for me) like Carmell Ross and Angela Padilla also left good impressions while theater bigwigs like Miguel Faustman and Caisa Borromeo stands out amidst minor roles.  The trio of Shiela Valderama Martinez, Ciara Sotto and Sheree Bautista perfectly blends as they play Charity's closest friends Nickie, Helene and Carmen respectively and plays a big part for the show's comic relief.

The Awesome cast of Sweet Charity Manila
TOP L-R: Miguel Faustman (Herman), OJ Mariano (Vittorio Vidal/Johann Brubeck), Topper Fabregas, Francis Matheu,
MIDDLE ROW L-R: Chai Relucio, Sheila Valderama Martinez (Nickie), Sheree Bautista (Carmen), Nikki Gil (Charity Hope Valentine), Kris Lawrence (Oscar Lindquist),  Ciara Sotto (Helene), Caisa Borromeo, Carmell Ross,
BOTTOM ROW L-R: Job Bautista, Chnie Nepomuceno, Anthony Ong, Angela Padilla (Ursula March), Peter Alcedo and  Vinia Pamplona

I never saw the original movie and my only peg for this show are the videos I saw on youtube (which is mostly Big Spender) and Chicago (another Bob Fosse musical).  I really like Chicago so my expectations towards the show is generally high.  But it appears that Sweet Charity is completely different.  Yes they both utilize Fosse style of dances but the overall show has a different flavor and approach.  My only problem with Sweet Charity is the sad ending.

Summing it up, Sweet Charity lives up with most of my expectations.  Great choreography, amazing set, phenomenal acting equals great show.  If you are the one who's looking for fun, laughs and good times, Sweet Charity will definitely be more happy to provide it to you.

Directed by the fantastic Robbie Guevara (Rent, The Wedding Singer), Sweet Charity runs until August 27 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza Makati.  For tickets and schedule inquiries please call 557-5860, 586-7105 or 0917-5545560 or email info@9workstheatrical.com.  See you all at the theater.

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