I’m not a prude, but the ba-ba-ba-ba-bum of the trumpet made my stomach turn. I was unfamiliar with Sweet Charity, but that song is unmistakable. Big Spender means strippers, but this was a high school production!sweetCharityLogo

When I accepted these tickets, I wasn’t prepared to watch girls, as young as 13, dance in negligees and short dresses. A few bent over to expose a garter and black Spanx. They lined up along the barre into suggestive poses. Put on display for the big spenders (teenage boys) to walk across the stage and select one to “dance” with.

The whipped cream on top was the bedroom scene. The bed had a canopy rail with burgundy sheets that enclosed the sides. A couple climbed onto the bed, the girl crawled up from behind him.She wrapped a blindfold across his eyes, pulled him inside and closed the sheets behind them. Then the bed started to vibrate.

This was shocking! The scene already suggested intimacy without resulting in cheap tactics. Why are they sexualizing these teenagers?

As someone who considers herself to be open-minded, I found this production inappropriate. It left me questioning the direction of the theatre. I can’t imagine allowing my 14-year-old daughter to take part in this exploitive production. For a distraction, I watched the lecherous old man, front and center. He didn’t find it embarrassing and difficult to watch. He couldn’t take his eyes off it.

I voiced my concerns to members of the Board, many of whom are parents of cast members. They defended their decision. “Our company views Sweet Charity as a show about a young woman trying to find meaning and hope in a world short on integrity, and who ultimately discovers the courage to create her own personal happiness.  It points out the absurdity and inequality of roles that women often find themselves in and how difficult it is to get out (i.e. the song and dialogue about “There’s Gotta be Something Better Than This”).  It’s about the challenge of finding a partner, who can love and support every aspect of someone wholeheartedly.” The movie is G-rated. It’s an opportunity to educate the students about theatre greats – Neil Simon and Bob Fosse. It also opens up valuable conversations with the cast and crew.

Perhaps the scene where Charity offers up sex in exchange for basic kindness has a deeper meaning. But to me, it shows the low-regard she holds for herself and belief that her body is the only thing of value she has to offer. It’s clear she has misconceptions of healthy relationship dynamics. At least he had the integrity to turn her down.

This deflection concerned me the most: “If “members of the cast are enticing attendance through social media with the promise of “sexy girls” on stage and provocative selfies” – this is their choice, not {theatre}’s doing. If you know any of those cast members personally, it might benefit them to respectfully share your opinion of their posts, with them one-on-one. If you note {theatre}’s promotion of the production, it has a very different message.”

This theatre develops and molds the youth of our community, and my family has experienced their ability to do so. As with all their productions, the costumes, choreography, and performances were exceptional. Yet this was not an age appropriate production.

We live in a society that makes best-selling books and blockbuster movies out of bad literature. It twists manipulation and abuse into a “love story.” Where children receive mixed messages and exposure to media beyond their comprehension. Where hemlines and panty lines are in direct competition. A world where self-worth teeters on the number of likes and comments.

We need to stop spotlightling out-dated behaviors and beliefs. It’s our responsibility to nurture and empower our youth to know their inherent value. To teach respect for others and encourage individuality. To act with integrity and to honor their bodies with high regard.

After all, how do we expect a world short on integrity and the inequality of roles women face to change, if we don’t?

What are your thoughts?

8 Comments on Not-so-Sweet Charity

  1. Cathrine
    March 18, 2015 at 9:16 am (3 years ago)

    Such a well timed piece. Not for you or T who had to sit through this but for all of those who sit with social blindfolds on as they watch for ex 50 shades, unaware that by saying that is ok they are telling young girls and boys that the behavior is as well. Thank you 🙂

  2. Sally Reeves Conway
    March 19, 2015 at 3:40 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you so much for voicing your truth on this and for caring enough about these kids to reach out to the board.

    I’m pretty sure there could have been another way to get the message out they say they were doing instead of objectifying these teens. It wasn’t just the girls, think of the message this sent to the boys also.

    I’m no prude either, but this crossed the line, big time.

  3. Nessie McPants
    March 19, 2015 at 7:00 pm (3 years ago)

    I am a theater person, and I was rather surprised that this show was chosen as a high school production. I absolutely love and agree with your quote at the end of article….”We need to stop spotlightling out-dated behaviors and beliefs. It’s our responsibility to nurture and empower our youth to know their inherent value. To teach respect for others and encourage individuality. To act with integrity and to honor their bodies with high regard.” YES.

  4. Jennifer
    March 19, 2015 at 7:11 pm (3 years ago)

    This seems so inappropriate to me. I don’t believe we, as adults, should sexual our teens. I hope other parents step forward and speak out about this. Bravo to you for starting the conversation.

  5. admin
    March 19, 2015 at 7:37 pm (3 years ago)

    YES! Time to remove the social blindfolds. Thank you for all the support and being part of the conversation.

  6. admin
    March 19, 2015 at 7:56 pm (3 years ago)

    YES! I’m sure it’s a fabulous adult production! Although the storyline is out-dated. I’d love to see a contemporary story of a confident, self-actualized woman, but then that doesn’t constitute drama!

  7. Carla Reisch
    March 20, 2015 at 2:38 am (3 years ago)

    This would be appropriate for college, but I truly don't see high schoolers putting on such a production. Someone didn't think this through.

  8. admin
    March 19, 2015 at 8:57 pm (3 years ago)

    Well said, Alice Ann!

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