Whether d'Amboise will be in the show when it officially opens on Broadway April 21 is an open question. Producer Barry Weissler announced March 14 that the Chicago and Contact actress would indeed take that bow. However, Applegate has been described in several publications as saying she is determined to be on the stage of the Al Hirschfeld Theatre come opening night.
March 18 will also be the first time the public witnesses the Helen and Nickie of Kyra DaCosta and Janine LaManna. The two thespians were brought in to replace Solange Sandy and Natascia Diaz, respectively, shortly after the Chicago run wrapped up. They will play Charity's best pals, who commiserate with Charity that "there's gotta be something better than this."
All told, half of the show's leads will be different from the cast used in Minneapolis and the Windy City. Still with the show are the Oscar Linquist of Denis O'Hare, the Big Daddy of Rhett George and the Herman of Ernie Sabella.
Charlotte d'Amboise was standby to original star Christina Applegate until recently. Applegate broke her foot during the March 11 performance in Chicago, two days before that second of three out-of-town engagements ended at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. Understudy Dylis Croman stepped in March 11-13. Soon after, it was announced that the show would arrive in Boston with Tony Award nominee d'Amboise in the title role March 18-27, at the Colonial Theatre.
* "We're hoping it will heal very quickly," Barry Weissler told Playbill.com the evening of March 14. "At this point, who knows? She just broke it Friday."
The loss of Applegate couldn't have come at a worse time. "Everything we planned on putting in the show before Broadway, now we have to hold up on because we're too busy putting people in the show," Weissler said. "There's a limit to what you can do."
How is the troupe holding up?
"Everyone's dispirited, everyone's depressed and de-energized by this," Weissler said. "But, by the same token they have to go on with the show. Charlotte d'Amboise is going into the show until Christina heals and comes back. Therefore, on the other hand, they are exuberant about continuing with the show and loving Charlotte."
Charlotte d'Amboise's sudden graduation to a place above the title will no doubt be greeted as a Cinderella story by the theatre community and New York theatre press. d'Amboise's reputation is as the ultimate Broadway trouper, a talented triple threat with 20 years' experience. She has only rarely originated roles in Broadway musicals, instead building a name as a talented and dedicated replacement lead in shows like Chicago, Damn Yankees and Contact. Many Broadway observers preferred her Roxie Hart to the one created by Ann Reinking.
"She's a triple threat," Weissler said of d'Amboise. "She's got the whole package. She's a marvelous actress, but there's always wit and whimsy in her work. I don't have to convince you that she's a great dancer, and she sings beautifully. She's going to, for the time being, until Christina comes back, make a brilliant Sweet Charity."
As recently as Sunday, March 13, the producers of Sweet Charity expressed their hope that Applegate would return to the show in time for the first preview performance at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on April 4.
Applegate sustained her injury at the beginning of the show March 11 and continued to play for approximately 20 minutes before being unable to continue, the producers confirmed. The show was stopped while Applegate's understudy, Dylis Croman, prepared to go on and finish the performance.
There is no way of knowing precisely when Applegate might be well enough to return, Weissler said. "Look, when this happened with Tommy Tune [in the Weisslers' Busker Alley] it took months," he said. "Christina's younger, maybe the break isn't as bad. I don't know."
Weissler confirmed "right now" the Broadway opening remains April 21 and "I hope Christina is back when the curtain goes up."
Boston will be the third and last pre-Broadway tryout town for the Walter Bobbie-directed musical. The show spent Feb. 8-20 in Minneapolis, and then moved on to Chicago on Feb. 24. The dates for Boston's Colonial Theatre are March 18-27, giving the company a few days to rehearse before d'Amboise plays. Changes and refinements are ongoing.
Applegate, the star of TV's "Married...with Children" and Hollywood's "Anchorman," is a major part of the show's marketing: Her wide-eyed likeness appears on the marquee of the Hirschfeld, and in print ads.
The creative team for Sweet Charity comprises Walter Bobbie (director), Wayne Cilento (choreographer), Scott Pask (set designer), William Ivey Long (costume design), Brian MacDevitt (lighting designer), Peter Hylenski (sound designer), Gordon Lowry Harrell (music director) and Don Sebesky (orchestrator).