Last Dance: Christina Applegate Sweet Charity Ends Broadway Run Dec. 31

By Robert Simonson
31 Dec 2005

Christina Applegate in Sweet Charity.
Christina Applegate in Sweet Charity.
Photo by Paul Kolnick

Sweet Charity, the musical revival that has offered Broadway a year's worth of drama both backstage and on, will hit the streets Dec. 31. It will have played 279 performances and 25 previews.

Christina Applegate, who fought off injury and out-of-town closure to realize her dream of playing Charity Hope Valentine on Broadway, will have played almost all of those performances.

The producers are exploring the possibility of launching a national tour.

The show's fate was arguably sealed when a recent attempt to draft pop star Britney Spears failed. Reports of Spears' interest in the project began to surface after the singer attended the Nov. 17 performance of Sweet Charity with her mother and husband, Kevin Federline.



"The Insider" television program reported that Federline would have also joined the revival of the Neil Simon-Cy Coleman-Dorothy Fields musical.

On Nov. 23, the New York Post reported that, should the casting have been achieved, the production would have moved to the Hilton Theatre, which has roughly 400 more seats than the Al Hirschfeld. However, Spears decided to pass on the opportunity in the end.

The producers of Charity never made an official annoucement regarding Spears.

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), Don York (music director) and Don Sebesky (orchestrator).

DRG Records preserved the score of Broadway's new Sweet Charity on a cast album May 9. The disc was released in stores June 24.

The Al Hirschfeld Theatre is located at 302 West 45th Street.

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The rocky history of this Sweet Charity—a backstage story for the Broadway books if ever there was one—began March 11 when Applegate broke her foot during a Chicago tryout of the show. Understudy Dylis Croman stepped in March 11-13. Standby Charlotte D'Amboise then took over the lead and played the entire pre-Broadway run in Boston, while Applegate mended.

Also joining the cast in Boston were Kyra DaCosta and Janine LaManna as Helen and Nickie. The two thespians were brought in to replace Solange Sandy and Natascia Diaz, respectively, shortly after the Chicago run wrapped up. They played Charity's best pals.

Boston was 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.

Producers, citing "weak sales on the road and in New York," and reportedly worried by poor reviews in Boston, announced March 25 that the revival would close with its final performance in Boston March 27. The show was originally to have begun previews at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre April 4 and officially open on Broadway April 21.

However, the show was back on as of March 30. Barry Weissler said in a statement at the time: "I spent the weekend on the telephone with Christina Applegate who made a passionate and compelling case for moving forward with our Broadway plans. Her doctor also confirmed this morning that she will be ready and able to resume performances on April 18th. I have approached my partners on the show and we have all agreed to put up the additional funds necessary to accommodate this new schedule."

All of this was breathlessly reported upon by the press.

Applegate gave her first New York performance in Sweet Charity on April 18, wearing a pair of supportive, ankle-length tan boots.

After her final bow at that performance, co-star Denis O'Hare, who plays Oscar, presented Applegate with flowers and said to the audience, "[Christina] has become a member of the Broadway community, and she did that through an incredible amount of determination and grit. We have never, any of us, seen anybody earn their stripes like this girl has."

The show was nominated for Best Revival of a Musical Tony Award. Applegate and choreographer Wayne Cilento were also nominated.