i recently played trumpet in the pit orchestra for a production of “sweet charity”. this is the second time i’ve played this show (last time was in 2010, with west valley light opera), and it was even more fun this time through. i was looking for a video of a particular song from the original show, and came across this documentary, which is the making of the production that i was part of, with city college of sf:

here’s the song i was looking for: “there’s gotta be something better than this”

i will admit that this story has always confused me. a disillusioned dance hall hostess falls in love with a shy, neurotic tax accountant, and dreams of quitting her job and starting a new life, leaving her past behind. it’s a cute story, but in the end she doesn’t make it. her boyfriend proposes to her, but dumps her last minute (at her bridal shower!), then pushes her into a lake.

apparently this was one of the most popular broadway musicals of the 70′s. i enjoyed the story, but i couldn’t articulate why, and had this overwhelming feeling that i didn’t “get it”. were people marveling over the song and dance? or did it get such rave reviews at the time, because the costume and characters were so sentimental it brought them back to the 60′s? or was there some more important meaning that viewers got out of it and wanted to share with the rest of the world? e.g. that we should all try to be as hopeful and resilient as the main character, charity? that none of us have it as bad as these dance hall hostesses and should be grateful for the good things in our life? or does the play try to teach about literal charity in the face of poverty and need? or was the writer just trying to teach us to be more optimistic?

it’s far from a perfect show, but it is thoroughly entertaining.