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Happy Feet

Bob Fosse's Sweet<\I> musical dances onto Porthouse's stage.

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When hopeless romantic Charity Hope Valentine ends up in a lake after an ex steals her purse, she doesn’t get even. She busts loose with some jazz hands and sticks up for the guy in Neil Simon’s Sweet Charity, now playing at Porthouse Theatre. “A woman needing a man -- that’s so old-fashioned,” says director Terri Kent. “The real story is how Charity learns where she needs to be.”

The musical -- originally staged by Bob Fosse in 1966 -- tells the story of Charity, a dancer in a seedy joint who remains optimistic, despite a lifetime of disappointment. Things begin to look up when a handsome man enters her life. MaryAnn Black plays the hapless hoofer with a heart-shaped tattoo, and her role is key, says choreographer John Crawford. “You have this thread of dance [throughout the play]. She knows the most important thing is the story we’re telling.” The biggest challenge is keeping the cast on its toes on Porthouse’s spare stage, says Crawford, who had only two weeks to rehearse showstoppers like “Big Spender.” “The audience is a huge part of the energy we carry,” he says. “I want them to be transformed and uplifted. It’s a show about surviving and relying on yourself. In the end, Charity is OK. You can be OK too.”
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: July 26. Continues through Aug. 12

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