Love, luck and loss: the story of Sweet Charity

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By Kaylee Kean

The music, theatre and dance department is introducing its next musical production, Sweet Charity, opening this Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Varner Studio Theatre.

The musical, originally directed by Bob Fosse, follows Charity Hope Valentine, the “unluckiest romantic in New York City,” according to the department’s website.

The production is being directed by Anthony Guest and Charity is being played by junior Jaclene Wilk, both of whom sat down with The Post as opening night draws near.

What is Sweet Charity about?

Guest: It’s about a woman’s journey through her trials and tribulations in search of love, and some of the tragic circumstances that sort of around her. The story can be very light and really play on female stereotypes. My attempt for this show was to try to focus on that search for love, and what kind of resilience women have in general in that search.

A woman’s need for a man isn’t paramount. And I hope the ending – the way I’ve staged the ending, which is different than anything that I know – tells that story.

Wilk: Charity Hope Valentine… it’s been a pleasure being this character because it’s been so natural for me. She is a goofy, quirky, fun girl.

Guest: To me it’s sort of like scratching the surface. This show was just meant to be a very entertaining piece.

You’re going to find some surprises on set. There’s layers of things and lighting effects and really the spectacle here is the use of people as well.

Wilk: It’s just been so neat because I think I easily just could have been this quirky, over the top girl. I think I do have that, because I think that is Charity. But in the beginning of the show where Charity is to the end I think you see a change. I hope you do.

Guest: I think what’s interesting about this story, from my perspective, is sort of this journey. She journeys to these different environments throughout the show. And she’s learning from these environments as she goes through.

It’s not your happy ending musical. I guess it depends on how you look at it. At least the hope is that people leave here, like…

Wilk: Feeling good about Charity.

Guest: Yes. Having conversations about where she’s headed next, where she’s going, what’s next for her. It’s sort of an ambiguous state.

What’s something unique you’ve gotten out of working on this production in particular?

Guest: I think what is unique about this show is the use of the acting space. I think what is unique as well is the ensemble and the way we work with each other and how much they’ve stuck together in especially the last week. And what I really, really feel especially is that the upperclassmen are such high-class individuals that they’re really good examples for the freshmen.

Wilk: I think the biggest thing for me is that it’s such a big role. I’ve had big roles before, but this being in a musical – you have to dance, you have to do it all.

I’ve never had a production with such a great team of people. It’s one thing that’s great about theatre, that camaraderie. And this show I think I truly noticed it and appreciated it more than ever. Everyone makes this production come together – it’s not just me.

Guest: One thing that’s important to know is that this musical is huge. This was built for Broadway and we have distilled it down to 24 people. And I think there’s a whole other musical happening backstage.

What’s your favorite song in Sweet Charity?

Wilk: It’s funny, because my favorite song, which you wouldn’t think out of all the songs, is “Where Am I Going?”. I just really like that song. It’s one of her ballad songs – it’s Charity’s moment.

Guest: My favorite song I think is a toss-up between “Where Am I Going?” and “Sweet Charity”.

Wilk: They’re just real, sweet moments.

For a list of show times and ticket prices visit oakland.edu/mtd.