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'Sweet Charity' opens the Aurora Theatre's new season

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Photo: Chris Bartelski Sweet Charity opens at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville this weekend.

IF YOU GO

• What: “Sweet Charity”

• When: Aug. 3 through Sept. 2

• Where: Aurora Theatre, 128 Pike St., Lawrenceville

• Cost: $16 to $35

• For more information: Visit www.auroratheatre.com

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Photo: Chris Bartelski Sweet Charity opens at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville this weekend.

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Photo: Chris Bartelski Sweet Charity opens at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville this weekend.

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Photo: Chris Bartelski Rebecca Simon (center) with the company of Sweet Charity. The show opens at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville this weekend.

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Photo: Chris Bartelski Jevares C. Myrick (center) with the company of Sweet Charity. The show opens at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville this weekend.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Charity Hope Valentine. She can only be described as dance hall gal with a heart of gold, who finds herself in unusual situations with men she has just met.

Sound like your kind of girl? Watch her adventures with love, heartbreak and independence as the Aurora Theatre opens its 17th season with Neil Simon's musical "Sweet Charity."

"We traditionally open the season with a classic Broadway musical at Aurora," Producing Artistic Director Anthony Rodriguez said. "(Director) Sean Daniels contacted me with this innovative chamber approach to 'Sweet Charity' that would be performed by a cast of just nine people. The more he talked about the ingenious way we could present the show, the more Ann-Carol (Pence) and I could not resist."

And Daniels was able to develop the play while keeping the integrity of the original story with a bare bones cast.

"I think it's a re-imagining of the piece," he said. "It's normally done with some 32 characters. So actually trying to figure out how to do it with nine was a great challenge. We didn't cut any lines, we didn't change anything, it's only done with less actors."

Many audience members were blown away by the cast's performance, especially since the ensemble played many characters.

"To be a small cast, the production was huge," Leslie Oubre of Jasper said. "The way Charity is a goof ball about everything, how she interacts with the chorus people with the uniforms, the way does her hands ... her voice is huge, her personality is huge and her reactions are huge."

Kelly Castle of Lawrenceville added, "You kind of want to put her in your pocket and take her home with you."

Main character Charity (played by Rebecca Simon) works as a dancer in a dumpy dive trying to make it week-to-week and she has a knack for falling head over heals for Mr. Wrong every time (each gentleman suitor is played by Trent Blanton).

With all of her flops and missteps, the young dancer realizes she can do better for herself because "There's Got to be Something Better Than This." The audience gets to watch as she transforms from a naive girl into a woman.

"It's a great romantic comedy in the original sense of what it is," Daniels said.

The ensemble of seven actors plays several parts -- everything from patrons in the dance hall to nosy spectators to the neighborhood milkman.

"I haven't laughed like that in a long time," Goldie Mitchell of Suwanee said. "The milkman was hysterical. I was almost crying because I was tickled. It's just a really fun show and a great season opener."

The play has some sexual content, which may not be suitable for young children. "Sweet Charity" runs through Sept. 2.