Lyric Theatre continues season with “Sweet Charity”

Oklahoma native Milena Govich returns to Lyric Theatre to star in “Sweet Charity”
BY RICK ROGERS Modified: July 6, 2012 at 5:09 pm •  Published: July 8, 2012

“When Michael (Baron) came in last year and I started assisting him, he was very gracious and caring,” Wells said. “Sometimes I'd ask if we could try something different (in rehearsal) and he would listen to some of my ideas. I had worked on a lot of Fosse shows so when he asked if I'd like to direct ‘Charity,' I said yes through my scared, gritted teeth.”

For “Sweet Charity,” Simon adapted Federico Fellini's screenplay of “The Nights of Cabiria,” the story of a prostitute who wanders the streets of Rome looking for true love. Unfortunately, she only finds heartbreak.

Simon changed the setting to New York City's Times Square and made Charity a dance hall hostess. She and fellow cohorts Nickie and Helene work for Herman, a taskmaster who runs the Fandango Ballroom.

“I haven't had to sell my body, but I'm lucky I've been able to pay my own bills through acting since I was 22,” Govich said with a laugh. “I can understand what Charity goes through, but what is so exciting about this story is that she gets frustrated and disappointed but she's never bitter. There's always this kernel of hope in everything she does.

“It's the push/pull in Charity that I love so much. The Fandango Ballroom is this dark, seedy place that Charity hates but she loves the friends who go through this with her. The interesting question is to what extent Charity operates in that nightlife.

“I can't quite reconcile how she could be sleeping with people for money and still have the outlook on life that she does. Charity doesn't react the way a lot of people would in similar circumstances. I think that's what makes people want to root for her, to see the joy through her life.”

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