By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
No detail has been un-ignored in this production. The choreography of the pie fight is the slowest and dullest in pie-fighting history. Costumes by Michael Robinson, a graduate of the hot glue school of design, are a horror. (Coleman designed Mabel's dresses for Movassagh, so she's the one who doesn't resemble a windblown scarecrow.) The men in the cast haven't even bothered with period haircuts.
This is the rewritten Mack & Mabel, a sunnier version revised by Francine Pascal, sister of now-deceased original book writer Michael Stewart. So instead of killing off drug-addicted Mabel at the end, everything comes out all hunky-dory. Storywise, that is. Theatre Three's production is dead on arrival.
Sweet Charity is the best of this year's Dallas Summer Musicals. The now-vintage cutie-pie show—book by Neil Simon, music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields—tells of the sorry but sadly funny love life of a Manhattan taxi dancer named Charity Hope Valentine. The girl has a gooey outlook on romance but keeps winding up with the fuzzy end of the lollipop.
Mack & Mabel continues through August 19 at Theatre Three, 214-871-3300.
Sweet Charity continues through August 5 at the Music Hall at Fair Park, 214-631-ARTS.
In the road company now at the Music Hall at Fair Park, Paige Davis, long of leg and twinkly of eye, plays Charity as less a loser and more a sexy, cockeyed optimist than Shirley MacLaine did in the 1969 movie. What a crackerjack comic actress this former Trading Spaces host turns out to be. And her dancing is damn good.
Walter Bobbie directed the Broadway revival, which suffered a revolving array of so-so stars, including Christina Applegate and Molly Ringwald, before evolving into a strong road show. Besides Davis, who actually makes us care about Charity, we also get a fabu supporting cast. As the claustro- and commitment-phobic boyfriend Oscar, Chicago actor Guy Adkins turns the meet-cute scene with Charity—they're stuck in a stalled elevator at the 92nd Street Y—into a sequence of madcap gymnastic contortions. Steve Wilson is a darling Vittorio Vidal, Italian movie star and all-around roué. David Glaspie rocks "The Rhythm of Life" as jazzy evangelist Daddy Johann Sebastian Brubeck. Wayne Cilento's choreography evokes the sexy hip pops of Bob Fosse's original steps without being rude about it.
Hey, big spender, get good seats for this one.