Sweet Joanie — Star of the Show
A Review of LRP's "Sweet Charity"
Nov. 16, 2022 — The Last Resort Players’ production of “Sweet Charity” marks the return of live theater to the FEC stage. It also boasts a remarkable story, suitable for the “comeback-of-the-year” award. As a minor helper in the production team, it is my job to follow the script line-by-line so I know when to change the images on the cyclorama, the large white screen at the rear of the stage. These images include a nighttime New York skyline, a bridge leading to Manhattan and several paintings selected by director Laura Merz to add to the ambiance of the settings.
I have known the lead actor, Joanie Schmidt (who plays Charity) for several years, mostly as a fellow chorister in the Florence Community Chorus. From the start, she impressed me as quiet and reserved, as expected in her day-job as Peace Harbor’s chaplain.
We attended Joanie’s wedding to David Mills via Zoom and were distressed when, just a couple of months later, we found out Joanie had an extremely serious medical problem, something that would drive almost everyone into a retreat from all activities.
In the spring of 2021, she was recovering from surgery and on the mend, keeping her Facebook friends in the loop on a group page “Joanie and the Bat in Her Belfry." That whimsical title gave me a hint that there was a side of her personality I had never seen. After Joanie’s arduous regimen of physical therapy, I wasn’t prepared for what came next.
LRP announced in the spring that Joanie had been selected to play the lead role in “Sweet Charity.” I could scarcely believe it. I have been in enough plays to understand how difficult it is to memorize many pages of lines and to actually deliver them in front of a filled theater. And when I saw the script, I gasped in amazement when I saw how Charity nearly carries the entire show.
At the first rehearsal I attended, and following the script line-by-line, I found it surprising that every actor was near perfect on their lines, thanks to the direction of Ms. Laura Merz. Most amazing was Joanie — who put such life and a perfect New York accent into her role. And following months of physical therapy, she dances, she struts with a cane and top hat and she even twirls a baton like a pro.
If you want to catch LRP’s latest achievement and see for yourself how this “comeback kid” steals the show (as well as your heart), make sure you are in the FEC theater for one of the final four performances from Thursday through Sunday.
Learn more at www.eventcenter.org and www.lastresortplayers.com.