Star-Bulletin Features

Monday, April 19, 1999

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Noah Johnson and Aiko Schick charm the audience as Oscar
and Charity in "Sweet Charity." Schick, also shown below,
plays the title role with a mixture of sass and naivete.

Castle’s sweet sensation
a must-see


Bullet Presented by: Castle Performing Arts Center
Bullet When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through May 1, and 2 p.m. April 28
Bullet Where: Ronald E. Bright Theatre, Castle High School
Bullet Tickets: $15
Bullet Call: 233-5626

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin


AIKO Schick does just about everything in Castle Performing Arts Center's production of "Sweet Charity" and dominates the show to a degree rarely seen in local theater. Granted, she has the title role and is on stage almost every minute, but she plays Charity Hope Valentine with a maturity and depth that would do credit to a performer 20 years her senior. Schick touches the heart, steals the show, and makes CPAC's "Sweet Charity" a must-see event.

Schick effortlessly incorporates the gawky poses, unquenchable optimism and guileless naivete that has made Charity such an enduring and appealing character. Schick also soars through the songs that illuminate key facets of Charity's character, and makes "If My Friends Could See Me Now" and "I'm A Brass Band" the song-and-dance showstoppers they must be. Schick is equally impressive in her non-singing scenes opposite Jason DeLuca (Vittorio) and Noah Johnson (Oscar).

Schick's appeal as a physical comedian comes through as well. When a prop malfunctioned on opening night she incorporated the results perfectly; if she knew what was coming she feigned surprise with remarkable skill.

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin

It's natural that modern perceptions of Charity are shaped by Shirley MacLaine's enduring portrayal in the film version of the story. Schick looks perfect in her basic black dress, and seems coiffed to suggest a resemblance to MacLaine.

Of course, "Sweet Charity" wasn't written as a one-woman show, and director Ronald E. Bright supports Schick's stellar performance with good work by other multi-talented young performers.

Johnson is first and foremost. He boosts the energy with his first appearance as Oscar and maintains it throughout. He projects well as both actor and singer, and succeeds in the challenging task of holding his own opposite Schick. Johnson's animated features and effective use of body language add impact to his performance as he reveals different sides of Oscar's complex character.

Credit Bright and choreographer Matthew Marcelo Pacleb with a brilliant bit of staging in their presentation of the Fan-Dango Ballroom where Charity works as a dime-a-dance "hostess." Many of the women there also work as prostitutes, and Bright and Pacleb suggest the ugliness of the business with a staging of "Big Spender" that stuns the senses with its total lack of sensuality.

Women-for-hire have never looked less appealing, more jaded, more mechanical, and more contemptuous of the men whose cash they seek.

Jana Anguay (Nickie) and Yoori Kim (Helene) maintain that attitude for most of the show as Charity's cynical "friends." Bright has them soften slightly in "Baby, Dream Your Dream." Anguay also shows sign of warmth opposite Joshua Lehto (Herman) in "I Love to Cry at Weddings."

Tatiana Blanchfield-Chang (Ursula), Chris Lau (Charlie), Sam McKeown II (Dirty Old Man) and Jordan Silva (Marvin), stand out in smaller parts. McKeown is also the centerpiece in a cacophonous staging of "The Rhythm of Life."

A platoon of young actor-singer-dancers labor more or less anonymously, but are likely to appear in major roles in the future.

Lloyd S. Riford III (set/lighting design) establishes the setting and suggests Charity's optimism with the beautiful art deco skyline on the primary backdrop. Bright and Pacleb fill the stage with vibrant energetic bodies for the lengthy dance numbers; their staging of a subway scene is also effective. Gwen Nakamura and her orchestra provide competent support throughout.

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