Play the Songs
Inspired by Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria, SWEET CHARITY explores the turbulent love life of Charity Hope Valentine, a hopelessly romantic but comically unfortunate dance hall hostess in New York City. With a tuneful, groovy, mid-1960s score by Cy Coleman, sparkling lyrics by Dorothy Fields, and a hilarious book by Neil Simon, SWEET CHARITY captures all the energy, humor, and heartbreak of Life in the Big City for an unfortunate but irrepressible optimist.
Musical numbers include: “Big Spender,” “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This,” “I’m a Brass Band” and “Baby, Dream Your Dream.”
Music samples provided courtesy of Jay Records and Notable Music Co.
- Rehearsal Materials
- Cast List
- Brief History
Charity Hope Valentine, a dance hall hostess at the Fandango Ballroom in New York, stands by the lake in Central park, waiting for her boyfriend, Charlie. When Charlie arrives, silently preening himself, she imagines the pick-up lines he might say (“You Should See Yourself”). Abruptly, and without a word, Charlie steals Charity’s handbag, pushes her into the lake, and runs off. Passers-by discuss the apparent drowning but do nothing, until a young man finally rescues her.
In the Hostess Room of the Fandango Ballroom, Charity tries to convince herself and the other dancers that Charlie tried to save her. Nickie, a fellow dancer, tells Charity, “You run your heart like a hotel — you’ve always got people checking in and checking out.” The manager, Herman, reminds them all to get to work. In the Ballroom’s main hall, the dancers proposition their potential customers (“Big Spender”). Charity, having moved from denial to anger, vows she’ll never let a man take advantage of her again (“Charity’s Soliloquy”).
On her way home from work, Charity encounters several panhandlers. Unable to say no, she gives them all her money. Just then, film star Vittorio Vidal and his beautiful mistress, Ursula, rush out of the ritzy Pompeii Club, arguing. Ursula refuses to re-enter with Vittorio, so he promptly takes the only-too-willing Charity instead. Inside the club, everyone wonders about the girl on Vittorio’s arm (“The Rich Man’s Frug”). Charity tries to steer him away from the subject of Ursula. She confesses she hasn’t eaten since breakfast, and faints on the dance floor. Vittorio brings her to his apartment to recover.
On Vittorio’s bed, Charity miraculously regains her strength. She admits she’s a dance hall hostess, and Vittorio is charmed by her humor and honesty. Starstruck, Charity requests a signed photograph. When Vittorio steps out, Charity can’t believe her good fortune (“If My Friends Could See Me Now”). Charity and Vittorio begin to enjoy dinner together, but Ursula suddenly arrives, so Charity hides in the closet. She remains there all night while, to her dismay, Vittorio and Ursula reconcile (“Too Many Tomorrows”).
The next day, Nicki and Helene are appalled that Charity failed to get more out of Vittorio, and the three girls vow to leave their thankless profession (“There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This”).
Deciding she needs some cultural enlightenment, Charity visits the 92nd Street Y, where she gets stuck in a broken elevator with a shy tax accountant named Oscar. Oscar suffers a claustrophobic panic attack, but Charity manages to calm him down (“I’m the Bravest Individual”). Just as they’ve both relaxed, the lights go black and they desperately call out for help.
To Oscar and Charity’s relief, the elevator resumes working. Oscar invites Charity to join him at his church, which meets under the Manhattan Bridge. The Rhythm of Life Church – a former Jazz club turned religion – turns out to be a thin veneer on hippie culture (“The Rhythm of Life”). A police raid breaks up the meeting. Traveling home on the subway, Oscar guesses that Charity works in a bank, and Charity goes along with his assumption. As they part, Oscar kisses her hand, dubbing her “Sweet Charity.”
Charity and Oscar continue dating, and two weeks later, she still hasn’t told him what she actually does for a living. Nickie and Helene mock Charity’s idealism, but admit to fantasizing about the future themselves (“Baby, Dream Your Dream”).
At the amusement park in Coney Island, Charity and Oscar get stuck on a broken parachute jump ride. This time, Oscar is the calm one; he declares his love for Charity and they kiss (“Sweet Charity”).
On a slow night at the Fandango, Charity loses a customer to her new, younger co-worker, Rosie. Disgusted by the whole business, Charity quits. Wandering through Times Square, she considers her future (“Where Am I Going?”).
Charity meets Oscar at a Mexican restaurant and admits that she’s a dance hall hostess. Oscar confesses he’s known for a week, having followed her to work one evening. He says he doesn’t care about her past and wants to marry her. Charity is relieved and elated (“I’m A Brass Band”).
Charity’s coworkers throw her a farewell party at the Ballroom (“I Love to Cry at Weddings”). After the party, Charity and Oscar walk in the park, and Oscar announces that he cannot go through with the wedding; he is unable to stop thinking about the “other men.” Their conversation grows animated and Oscar accidentally pushes her into the lake. Panicked, he runs off. Charity emerges from the lake and asks the audience, “Did you ever have one of those days?” Realizing that this time, she’s retained her bag and her money, she shrugs and reprises her opening dance. Charity strikes a playful pose and three neon signs appear: “And so she lived … hopefully … ever after.”
Book by Neil Simon
Music by Cy Coleman Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Based on an original screenplay by Federico Fellini,
Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano
Produced for the Broadway stage by: Fryer, Carr and Harris
Conceived, Staged and Choreographed by Bob Fosse
Such credits to the authors for all purposes shall be in type size equal to or greater than that of any other credits except for that of the star(s) above the title. In the programs, the credits shall appear on the title page thereof.
The title page of the program shall contain the following announcement in type size at least one-half the size of the authors’ credits:
is presented by arrangement with
TAMS-WITMARK MUSIC LIBRARY, INC.
560 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10022
3 Violins I & II
1 Reed I: Piccolo, Flute, Alto Flute (or Clarinet), Clarinet & Alto Sax
1 Reed II: Piccolo, Flute, Alto Flute (or Clarinet), Clarinet & Alto Sax
1 Reed III: Oboe, Clarinet & Tenor Sax
1 Reed IV: Flute (or Clarinet), Clarinet, Bass Clarinet & Tenor Sax
1 Reed V: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet (or Bassoon), Bassoon, and Baritone Sax
1 Trumpet I & II (double Flügelhorns)
1 Trumpet III
1 Trumpet IV
1 Trombone I
1 Trombone II
1 Trombone III
2 Percussion I & II:
Timpani (2 Drums)
Snare Drum (Brushes & Sticks)
Military Snare Drum
Bells (Soft & Hard Mallets)
Wood Blocks (Small & Large)
Tambourine (Small & Large)
Castanets (Stick & Finger)
1 Guitar I – Guitar, Electric Guitar and Hand Cymbals
1 Guitar II – Bass Guitar, Guitar & Electric Guitar
Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material.
(There is no Piano in the orchestration)
1 Piano Conductor’s Score
1 Prompt Book for Director
30 Prompt Books for Cast
30 Chorus-Vocal Books
(4 female; 4 male)
Charity Hope Valentine
2 Assistants to Brubeck
Charlie — also Voice on Tape
First Passerby — also Man Panhandler
First Young Man — also Marvin
Married Woman — also First Woman
Married Man — also Manfred
Woman with Hat — also Woman Panhandler and Good Fairy
Ice Cream Vendor — also Second Man Panhandler
Second Young Man — also Waiter
Second Woman — also Second Woman Panhandler
Baseball Player — also Man Waiting for Elevator
Girl — also Information Booth Girl
Man with a Dog — also Doorman
Spanish Young Man
Dirty Old Man — also Barney
First Cop — also Policeman
Second Cop — also Cop
Leaders of the Singers and Dancers
92nd Street Y Patrons
Rhythm of Life Church Congregation
Coney Island People
Fan-Dango Ballroom Customers and Employees
The original Broadway production had a cast of 30 performers, including chorus. Doubling was employed, including as indicated above.
SWEET CHARITY played for 608 performances on Broadway at the Palace Theatre starring Gwen Verdon, John McMartin, Helen Gallagher and Thelma Oliver. It played for 476 performances in London at the Prince of Wales Theatre. It was revived on Broadway in 1986 and played for 369 performances at the Minskoff Theatre starring Debbie Allen, Michael Rupert, Bebe Neuwirth and Allison Williams. In 2005, the show was revived again at the Al Hirshfeld Theatre starring Christina Applegate, Denis O’Hare, Ernie Sabella and Paul Schoeffler.
The Tony Award for Choreographer
The Outer Critics Circle Award for Performance
4 Tony Awards for Revival, Costume Designer, Featured Actor and Featured Actress
The Drama Desk Award for Featured Actor
The Outer Critics Circle Award for Choreography
Find upcoming performances near you.
Organization City, State First Performance Last Performance Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. MIAMI, FL 01/01/2017 12/31/2018 Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre LINCOLNSHIRE, IL 09/05/2018 10/28/2018 University of Michigan ANN ARBOR, MI 10/11/2018 10/21/2018 Broadhollow Theatre Company EAST ISLIP, NY 12/01/2018 01/27/2019 Canadian College of Performing Arts VICTORIA, BC 02/01/2019 02/09/2019 Metropolitan State College of Denver DENVER, CO 02/28/2019 03/10/2019 Rollins College WINTER PARK, FL 04/19/2019 04/27/2019