Sweet Charity


Inspired by Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria, SWEET CHARITY explores the turbulent love life of Charity Hope Valentine, a hopelessly romantic but comically unfortunate dance hall hostess in New York City. With a tuneful, groovy, mid-1960s score by Cy Coleman, sparkling lyrics by Dorothy Fields, and a hilarious book by Neil Simon, SWEET CHARITY captures all the energy, humor, and heartbreak of Life in the Big City for an unfortunate but irrepressible optimist.

Tams-Witmark proudly licenses the original 1966 Broadway version of SWEET CHARITY.

Musical numbers include: “Big Spender,” “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This,” “I’m a Brass Band” and “Baby, Dream Your Dream.”

Music samples provided courtesy of Jay Records and Notable Music Co.

  • Synopsis
  • Credits
  • Orchestration
  • Materials
  • Cast
  • History
  • Musical Numbers
  • Upcoming
  • Act I

    Charity Hope Valentine, a dance hall hostess at the Fandango Ballroom in New York, stands by the lake in Central park, waiting for her boyfriend, Charlie. When Charlie arrives, silently preening himself, she imagines the pick-up lines he might say (“You Should See Yourself”). Abruptly, and without a word, Charlie steals Charity’s handbag, pushes her into the lake, and runs off. Passers-by discuss the apparent drowning but do nothing, until a young man finally rescues her.

    In the Hostess Room of the Fandango Ballroom, Charity tries to convince herself and the other dancers that Charlie tried to save her. Nickie, a fellow dancer, tells Charity, “You run your heart like a hotel — you’ve always got people checking in and checking out.” The manager, Herman, reminds them all to get to work. In the Ballroom’s main hall, the dancers proposition their potential customers (“Big Spender”). Charity, having moved from denial to anger, vows she’ll never let a man take advantage of her again (“Charity’s Soliloquy”).

    On her way home from work, Charity encounters several panhandlers. Unable to say no, she gives them all her money. Just then, film star Vittorio Vidal and his beautiful mistress, Ursula, rush out of the ritzy Pompeii Club, arguing. Ursula refuses to re-enter with Vittorio, so he promptly takes the only-too-willing Charity instead. Inside the club, everyone wonders about the girl on Vittorio’s arm (“The Rich Man’s Frug”). Charity tries to steer him away from the subject of Ursula. She confesses she hasn’t eaten since breakfast, and faints on the dance floor. Vittorio brings her to his apartment to recover.

    On Vittorio’s bed, Charity miraculously regains her strength. She admits she’s a dance hall hostess, and Vittorio is charmed by her humor and honesty. Starstruck, Charity requests a signed photograph. When Vittorio steps out, Charity can’t believe her good fortune (“If My Friends Could See Me Now”). Charity and Vittorio begin to enjoy dinner together, but Ursula suddenly arrives, so Charity hides in the closet. She remains there all night while, to her dismay, Vittorio and Ursula reconcile (“Too Many Tomorrows”).

    The next day, Nicki and Helene are appalled that Charity failed to get more out of Vittorio, and the three girls vow to leave their thankless profession (“There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This”).

    Deciding she needs some cultural enlightenment, Charity visits the 92nd Street Y, where she gets stuck in a broken elevator with a shy tax accountant named Oscar. Oscar suffers a claustrophobic panic attack, but Charity manages to calm him down (“I’m the Bravest Individual”). Just as they’ve both relaxed, the lights go black and they desperately call out for help.

    Act II

    To Oscar and Charity’s relief, the elevator resumes working. Oscar invites Charity to join him at his church, which meets under the Manhattan Bridge. The Rhythm of Life Church – a former Jazz club turned religion – turns out to be a thin veneer on hippie culture (“The Rhythm of Life”). A police raid breaks up the meeting. Traveling home on the subway, Oscar guesses that Charity works in a bank, and Charity goes along with his assumption. As they part, Oscar kisses her hand, dubbing her “Sweet Charity.”

    Charity and Oscar continue dating, and two weeks later, she still hasn’t told him what she actually does for a living. Nickie and Helene mock Charity’s idealism, but admit to fantasizing about the future themselves (“Baby, Dream Your Dream”).

    At the amusement park in Coney Island, Charity and Oscar get stuck on a broken parachute jump ride. This time, Oscar is the calm one; he declares his love for Charity and they kiss (“Sweet Charity”).

    On a slow night at the Fandango, Charity loses a customer to her new, younger co-worker, Rosie. Disgusted by the whole business, Charity quits. Wandering through Times Square, she considers her future (“Where Am I Going?”).

    Charity meets Oscar at a Mexican restaurant and admits that she’s a dance hall hostess. Oscar confesses he’s known for a week, having followed her to work one evening. He says he doesn’t care about her past and wants to marry her. Charity is relieved and elated (“I’m A Brass Band”).

    Charity’s coworkers throw her a farewell party at the Ballroom (“I Love to Cry at Weddings”). After the party, Charity and Oscar walk in the park, and Oscar announces that he cannot go through with the wedding; he is unable to stop thinking about the “other men.” Their conversation grows animated and Oscar accidentally pushes her into the lake. Panicked, he runs off. Charity emerges from the lake and asks the audience, “Did you ever have one of those days?” Realizing that this time, she’s retained her bag and her money, she shrugs and reprises her opening dance. Charity strikes a playful pose and three neon signs appear: “And so she lived … hopefully … ever after.”

    Book by Neil Simon
    Music by Cy Coleman               Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
    Based on an original screenplay by Federico Fellini,
    Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano
    Produced for the Broadway stage by: Fryer, Carr and Harris
    Conceived, Staged and Choreographed by Bob Fosse

    Such credits to the authors for all purposes shall be in type size equal to or greater than that of any other credits except for that of the star(s) above the title. In the programs, the credits shall appear on the title page thereof.

    The title page of the program shall contain the following announcement in type size at least one-half the size of the authors’ credits:

    is presented by arrangement with
    Tams-Witmark, A Concord Theatricals Company

    Additionally, you agree to include the above language hyperlinked to https://tamswitmark.com/ on all websites on which you promote the play.

  • Full Orchestration

    3 Violins I & II
    2 Cello
    1 Bass

    1 Reed I: Piccolo, Flute, Alto Flute (or Clarinet), Clarinet & Alto Sax
    1 Reed II: Piccolo, Flute, Alto Flute (or Clarinet), Clarinet & Alto Sax
    1 Reed III: Oboe, Clarinet & Tenor Sax
    1 Reed IV: Flute (or Clarinet), Clarinet, Bass Clarinet & Tenor Sax
    1 Reed V: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet (or Bassoon), Bassoon, and Baritone Sax

    1 Trumpet I & II (double Flügelhorns)
    1 Trumpet III
    1 Trumpet IV
    1 Trombone I
    1 Trombone II
    1 Trombone III

    2 Percussion I & II:

    Timpani (2 Drums)
    Snare Drum (Brushes & Sticks)
    Military Snare Drum
    Tom Tom
    Bongo Drums
    Conga Drum
    Cymbals: Suspended
    Bells (Soft & Hard Mallets)
    Vibraphone (Optional)
    Pop Gun
    Whip Snap
    Siren Whistle
    Cow Bell
    Wood Blocks (Small & Large)
    Tambourine (Small & Large)
    Bell Tree
    Sand Blocks
    Castanets (Stick & Finger)

    1 Cordovox
    1 Guitar I – Guitar, Electric Guitar and Hand Cymbals
    1 Guitar II – Bass Guitar, Guitar & Electric Guitar

    Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material.

    (There is no Piano in the orchestration)

  • Rehearsal Materials

    2       Piano/Conductor Scores
    20     Libretto/Vocal Books

  • Principals

    (4 female; 4 male)

    Charity Hope Valentine
    Vittorio Vidal
    Oscar Lindquist
    Daddy Brubeck


    Ursula March
    2 Assistants to Brubeck

    Doubling Parts

    Charlie — also Voice on Tape
    First Passerby — also Man Panhandler
    First Young Man — also Marvin
    Married Woman — also First Woman
    Married Man — also Manfred
    Woman with Hat — also Woman Panhandler and Good Fairy
    Ice Cream Vendor — also Second Man Panhandler
    Second Young Man — also Waiter
    Second Woman — also Second Woman Panhandler
    Baseball Player — also Man Waiting for Elevator
    Girl — also Information Booth Girl
    Man with a Dog — also Doorman
    Spanish Young Man
    Dirty Old Man — also Barney
    First Cop — also Policeman
    Second Cop — also Cop
    Leaders of the Singers and Dancers


    Park Crowd
    Dancing Couples
    92nd Street Y Patrons
    Rhythm of Life Church Congregation
    Subway Riders
    Coney Island People
    Fan-Dango Ballroom Customers and Employees

    The original Broadway production had a cast of 30 performers, including chorus. Doubling was employed, including as indicated above.

  • SWEET CHARITY played for 608 performances on Broadway at the Palace Theatre starring Gwen Verdon, John McMartin, Helen Gallagher and Thelma Oliver. It played for 476 performances in London at the Prince of Wales Theatre. It was revived on Broadway in 1986 and played for 369 performances at the Minskoff Theatre starring Debbie Allen, Michael Rupert, Bebe Neuwirth and Allison Williams. In 2005, the show was revived again at the Al Hirshfeld Theatre starring Christina Applegate, Denis O’Hare, Ernie Sabella and Paul Schoeffler.

    AWARDS (1965-66)

    The Tony Award for Choreographer
    The Outer Critics Circle Award for Performance

    AWARDS (1985-86)

    4 Tony Awards for Revival, Costume Designer, Featured Actor and Featured Actress
    The Drama Desk Award for Featured Actor
    The Outer Critics Circle Award for Choreography

  • Act I

    1. Overture – Orchestra
    2. Charity Opening – Orchestra
    3. “You Should See Yourself” – Charity
    4. To The Lake – Orchestra
    5. The Rescue – Orchestra
    6. Scene Change – Orchestra
    7. “Big Spender” – Nickie, Helene, & Girls
    8. Vamp: Big Spender – Orchestra
    9. “Charity’s Soliloquy” – Charity
    10. Playoff: Soliloquy – Orchestra
    11. My Problem – Orchestra
    12. Stroke Of Luck – Orchestra
    13. “Rich Man’s Frug” – Chorus
    14. Who Is It? – Orchestra
    15. Words Of Love – Orchestra
    16. Scene Change – Orchestra
    17. This Scene – Orchestra
    18. “If My Friends Could See Me Now” – Charity
    19. “Too Many Tomorrows” – Vidal
    20. Morning Music – Orchestra
    21. “Ciao Baby” – Charity
    22. “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This” – Nickie, Helene & Charity
    23. Big Decision – Orchestra
    24. Elevator Sting 1 – Orchestra
    25. “Bravest Individual” – Oscar & Charity
    26. First Act Curtain – Orchestra

    Act II

    27. Entr’acte – Orchestra
    28. Elevator Sting 2 – Orchestra
    29. Before Raincheck – Orchestra
    30. “Rhythm of Life” – Daddy Brubeck, Two assistants, & Chorus
    31. Sermon: “Rhythm of Life” – Chorus
    32. Playoff: Rhythm of Life – Orchestra
    33. Subway – Orchestra
    34. “Baby Dream Your Dream” – Nickie & Helene
    35. Scene Change: Coney Island Waltz – Orchestra
    36. Ascend – Orchestra
    37. “Sweet Charity” – Oscar & Chorus
    38. Reprise: “Big Spender” – Helene & Girls
    39. Revamp – Orchestra
    40. “Where Am I Going?” – Charity
    41. Going Love Scene – Orchestra
    42. Underscore: You Bet – Orchestra
    43. “I’m a Brass Band” – Charity & Men
    44. Cake Fanfare – Orchestra
    45. Coney Island Waltz – Orchestra
    46. “I Love To Cry At Weddings” – Herman, Nickie, Rosie, Helene, Solo Tenor, & Chorus
    47. Plans – Orchestra
    48. Finale – Orchestra
    49. Bows: “See Me Now” – Full company
    50. Exit Music – Orchestra

  • Find upcoming performances near you.

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    Organization City, State First Performance Last Performance
    Carthage College Kenosha, WI 01/31/2020 02/01/2020
    Art Park Players Deer Park, TX 02/14/2020 02/29/2020
    Binghamton University Department of Theatre Binghamton, NY 02/21/2020 03/01/2020
    Oceanside Theatre Company Oceanside, CA 03/06/2020 03/30/2020
    Georgetown Palace Theater Georgetown, TX 03/13/2020 04/05/2020
    Levine School of Music- Act Two @ Levine Washington, DC 03/20/2020 03/21/2020
    State University of New York at Fredonia Fredonia, NY 03/27/2020 04/04/2020
    Westminster College Salt Lake City, UT 04/02/2020 04/11/2020
    St. Lawrence College Brockville, ON 04/03/2020 04/06/2020
    Sacred Heart High School Players Yonkers, Ny 04/03/2020 04/05/2020
    Mentor Public Schools Mentor, OH 04/16/2020 04/19/2020
    Chaparral High School Temecula, CA 04/23/2020 05/02/2020
    Somerset Valley Players Hillsborough, NJ 04/24/2020 05/10/2020
    Shenandoah Valley Drama Club Shenandoah, PA 04/25/2020 04/27/2020
    New Candlelight Productions Wilmington, DE 07/11/2020 08/22/2020