‘Sweet Charity’ dances across the stage at the FEC


Oct. 25, 2022 — Last Resort Players will present “Sweet Charity” at the Florence Events Center mainstage on Nov. 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19 and 20. Directed by Laura Merz and choreographed by Angela Palmer, the show stars Joanie Schmidt, local favorite, as the lead, Charity Hope Valentine, “a girl who wanted to be loved.”

“There is a story behind the story,” said Director Laura Merz. “Joanie had a brain tumor removed a year ago this spring. The large tumor was quite large and nearly fatal. She now has no hearing in her left ear, after the difficult surgery and still carries bits of the tumor in her brain.”

For Merz, this is similar to the story of Sandy Duncan, who played Peter Pan on Broadway one year after she had a brain tumor removed from behind her left eye. “The role was her biggest life-time achievement,” she said.

In the play, Charity is a taxi dancer, a dance partner-for-hire at a seedy dance hall, “The Fandango Ballroom,” in New York City during the early 1960s. Though the job may be decidedly undesirable, Charity’s hopeful romanticism and unfailing optimism lift her out of her circumstances and help her reach for a life beyond.

“Joanie IS Charity Hope Valentine,” Merz said. “This is her show. She began singing, dancing and learning the script in May. I retained a baton-twirling expert to teach her to twirl. She practices everything for the show, every day.”

According to Schmidt, when she started practicing the baton, her physical therapist loved the fact that she can twirl, exercising both sides of the brain, improving hand-eye coordination and getting basic physical exercise.

“In my decades of performance experience, I have never directed an actor with more dedication and commitment than Joanie,” Merz continued. “She learned all her songs, has worked diligently on dancing and has memorized the entire script, earlier than anyone else in the show! She is bound and determined to succeed with this production. And she will.”

During the play, in Charity’s past, she had been strung along and hung out to dry by a series of bad relationships and lousier men. When she meets Oscar, a neurotic, shy actuary — played by Peter Tomaszewski — seemingly from another world, will she finally find true love?

One of the most famous shows by legendary director/choreographer Bob Fosse and with a laugh-a-minute script by the incomparable Neil Simon, every audience is destined to fall in love with Charity’s limitless spirit as she lives life “hopefully ever after.”

With music composed by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields, “Sweet Charity” includes song hits such as “Hey, Big Spender,” “If My Friends Could See Me Now” and “Rhythm of Life.” With a large and talented cast, full orchestra and grand staging, costumes and surprises, LRP once again will bring great entertainment to the big stage.

The cast includes:

Sydney Crapser – Charlie, Mike, Bro

Beth Creamer – Fandango Girl

John Culp – Ensemble/Chorus

Denise Dee – Chorus

Cathy Dupont – Alice/Fandango Girl

Sara Flores – Chorus

Grant Harmond – Cop, Manfred, Ens

Melissa Hartman – Nicki/Fandango Girl

Ricki Kerner – Ensemble/Chorus

Jennifer Marus – Carmen/Fandango Girl

James McKinney – Daddy Brubeck

Gary Miller – Vittorio Vidal

Laura Miller – Ursula/Fandango Girl

David Mills Marven – Ens/Chorus

Marcee Mills-Teeters – Frenchy/Fandango Girl

Angela Palmer – Betsy/Fandango Girl

Nancy Pearson – Fandango Girl

Joanie Schmidt – Charity

Victoria Seitzinger – Suzanne/Fandango Girl

Jacquelyn Serrano – Helene/Fandango Girl

Heidi Sundstrom – Elaine/Fandango Girl

Sheri Susee – Chorus/Ens

Peter Tomaszewski – Oscar

Gary Trevisan – Ensemble/Chorus

Jim Wellington – Herman

Kristi Whittington – Office Girl/Chorus

Josh Woodward – Charlie, Mike, Bro H

The production team includes:

Jared Anderson – Producer, Advertising

Laura Merz – Director, Producer

Chris Lewis – Pit Orchestra Director

Angela Palmer – Choreographer

Judy Kaplan – Assistant Director, Stage Manager

Tracy Teeters – Set Builder

Margaret McDiarmid – Lighting mentor

George Caldwell – Lighting Tech

JonPaul Jones – Sound Tech

David Lauria – Tech mentor

Julie Ellis – Props/stage crew

Dianna Berry – Props/stage crew

Kristi Whittington – Costumer

Lori Janowski – Asst. Costumer

Sabrina Hand – Asst. Costumer

Mary Anne Carter – Hair & Make-up

Beverly Corley – Hair/Make-up, Props

Elizabeth Rose – Ad sales/Sponsors

The orchestra includes:

Rhianna Haines – Pit Keyboard, Rehearsal Accompanist

Ron Green – Trumpet 1, Flugel Horn

Garrett A. Chavez – Trumpet 2

Eric Bigler – Trombone 1

Paul Strike – Trombone 2

Danny Keppol – Accordion/Bari Sax (Reed 5)

Cathy Skora – Reed 1/Flute

Cathy Deitz – Reed 2/Clarinet

Gail Nichols – Reed 3/Oboe

Mary Moore – Reed 4/Clarinet/A Sax

Nancy Kromer – Bass

John Gulla – Guitar

Joey Haines – Percussion

Along with other accompanists and technical crew members.

For further “Sweet Charity” details, visit LRP at www.LastResortPlayers.com.

Tickets are $20 and may be purchased at Florence Events Center, 541-997-1994 or online at www.event
center.org. “Sweet Charity” is proudly sponsored by City Lights Cinemas, www.citylightscinemas.com.