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Peoria Players presents Sweet Charity March 25, 26, 30, 31, April 1 and 2 at 7:30 pm, and March 27 and April 3 at 2:00 pm.

Inspired by the Federico Fellini film Nights of Cabiria, Sweet Charity explores the turbulent love life of Charity Hope Valentine, a hopelessly romantic but comically unfortunate dance hall hostess as she desperately seeks love in New York City in the 1960s. In this exuberant, groovy, hilarious and charming musical comedy with a tuneful score by Cy Coleman, sparkling lyrics by Dorothy Fields, and a hilarious book by Neil Simon, Charity tries again and again to find her dream and make something of herself. The show was originally conceived, directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse and filled with showstopping musical numbers like “Hey, Big Spender”, “If My Friends Could See Me Now”, “Rhythm of Life”, and “I’m a Brass Band”.

This iteration of the show is directed by Chip Joyce, who last appeared onstage at Peoria Players during their 100th season as the Scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz” and pulling double duty as the director (both onstage and off) in “A Chorus Line”. Audiences will experience numerous elaborate and stylized dance numbers in this show, performed by a “Who’s Who” of Peoria’s finest dancers and choreographers. This production is somewhat of an “anniversary show” for both Joyce and choreographer Heather Klaus, who 15 years ago directed and choreographed “Pippin”, another Fosse classic together at Peoria Players. They have since collaborated on numerous shows, including the aforementioned “A Chorus Line”. Joining them on the production staff are music directors Laura Weaver Hughes and Brady Hughes who will lead a live 12 piece orchestra, and for the first time with one of his productions, Joyce enlisted an Assistant Director, dancer and choreographer Sydney Abdnour.

In his directors notes, Joyce writes “Charity’s energy and optimism dabbles color across her perpetually disappointing life. After each mishap, she brushes herself off and wanders on to the next adventure, much like the little tramp in a Charlie Chaplin comedy. Will she ever learn, or is she doomed to repeat her mistakes time after time?”In the title role of Charity is Randee Blickenstaff, a familiar dancer and performer taking on her first leading role with this production. Blickenstaff sings, dances and carries the show on her shoulders, but she isn’t alone in the endeavor; joining her are 26 additional cast members including Aaron Elwell as frazzled love interest Oscar, Ali Dixon and Jennifer Morris as Charity’s dance hall friends Nickie and Helene, Italian movie star Vittorio Vidal (Troy Hamilton), dance hall proprietor Herman (Ron Janik), the ultra groovy Daddy Brubeck (Treveon Campbell) plus a cast of other assorted colorful characters.

Audiences are destined to fall in love with Charity’s limitless spirit, as she lives life “hopefully ever after.” Joyce concludes his directors notes by stating “I hope Sweet Charity gives you a lot to think about after you leave, and maybe even discuss on the drive home or over food and drinks with friends afterwards. Isn’t it nice to be doing things like that again?”

Tickets for Sweet Charity are available at  peoriaplayers.org or by calling 309-688-4473. This show is generously underwritten by Donlan Sudholt Dental, Chris and Laura Hughes, and in memory of Brianna Cross Wood and Steve “Woody” Wood.

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