Good Time ‘Charity’: Still charming after all these years

BY TERRY MATHEWS | News-Telegram Arts Editor

July 26, 2007 - A lot of actresses have played the title role of Charity Hope Valentine, the hooker with a heart of gold. Gwen Verdon, the original “Sweet Charity,” introduced us to the dance hall hostess, while Shirley MacClaine brought Charity to life on film. Debbie Allen and Christina Applegate have starred in recent Broadway revivals.

Paige Davis

The Broadway production features the music of Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields and brilliant choreography by Bob Fosse, who conceived the role for Gwen Verdon, his wife at the time. Fosse also directed and choreographed the 1969 movie.

Now, perky Paige Davis is strutting her stuff as the girl from the wrong side of the tracks in the Dallas Summer Musicals. 

Davis, who graduated from The Meadows School of Fine Arts at Southern Methodist University, brings another layer to one of Broadway’s most coveted roles. While she’s still the bubbly girl we fell in love with on the hit television show“Trading Spaces,” Davis brings great acting, singing and dancing ability to the stage.

Davis is the quintessential Fosse femme fatale. She is bright-eyed, long-legged and knows how to move. She understands what it means to dance Fosse numbers. She also has a keen understanding of Charity’s lot in life. 

Rather than playing her as shop-worn like MacClaine did in the 1969 film, Davis keeps Charity’s “sweetness” in tact, despite her many setbacks. Her best moment comes in “If They Could See Me Now,” as she roams around the expansive New York City apartment of matinee idol Vittorio Vidal, marveling at her good luck.

�In this production, Davis is surrounded by a stellar cast, each able to hold their own in the spotlight.�

Of particular note is Davis’ love interest, Guy Adkins (Oscar). Their bit in a stalled elevator literally stopped the show, with Adkins providing more than his share of physical comedy.I have rarely seen such a perfectly timed scene. Adkins’ gymnastics are amazing.

�Sweet Charity� runs through August 5 at the State Fair Music Hall in Dallas. Tickets range from $11-$69. Call 214-631-ARTS (2787) or visit www.ticketmaster.com for more information.

Enjoy!

Charity speaks: A few words with Paige

Paige Davis, star of “Sweet Charity,” now running at the Dallas Summer Muscials, took time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions about returning ‘home’ to Dallas, the show and what the future holds.

News Telegram: How does it feel to be coming back to Dallas?  

Paige Davis: I have a lot of memories in Dallas, so it will feel nostalgic. I also happen to have a handful of very close friends coming into Dallas to see the show so I'm super excited about that. And I plan on stoppin' into a Le Madeline. Love that tomato soup! Gotta have it! :-)

NT: Why do people love Charity Valentine?

PD: Because she never gives up. Even when she's down on her luck, even when it looks likes there's no hope, she perseveres. She may be a "dance hall hostess," but I think people admire her and wish they, too, had her incredible strength and optimism. She speaks to the better side in all of us.

NT: You've performed in a lot of shows. What makes this production special?

PD: My name is above the title. No, just kidding. Seriously, this show has an amazingly talented cast and dedicated crew. They are going to truly blow you away! Not to get too Pollyanna or anything, but we all get along and we love doing this show every night. We even hang out together in large groups on our days off. Now THAT'S love. I feel really blessed to have landed in such a fabulous company. 

NT: Do you have a favorite number in the show?

PD: I enjoy “Brass Band” the most. I feel so alive and full of spirit during it. Plus, almost every one is on stage with me during that number, so I feel really connected to the cast. 

NT: What's next for you?

PD: I've got some irons in the fire, but who knows. Heck, if someone had told me last year that this summer I'd be playing the greatest female role in musical theater I'd have never believed it. It is a dream come true to be part of this Broadway revival. 

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