Sweet Charity follows the adventures of Charity Hope Valentine in her search of Love and Happiness. Charity has been treated badly by Love in the past but she doesn’t let that get her down. As the show opens she is treated particularly badly by her current Love, Charlie. Charlie steals her handbag and pushes her in the lake! Charity is convinced that there has been some misunderstanding and explains this to her girlfriends back at the Fandango Ballroom (a place where men pay to dance and women ‘defend themselves to music’). Her best friends Nickie and Helene try to convince her that she is kidding herself and that life deals nothing but heavy blows – Charity will have none of it!
By chance Charity (literally) runs into Vitorrio Vidal (a famous Italian movie star) just as he is breaking up with his famous girlfriend Ursula. Vitorrio decides to take Charity to a high class night-club to teach Ursula a lesson. Starstruck Charity cannot refuse. In the Pompeii Club Charity feels faint through lack of food and convinces Vitorrio to take her to his apartment. Once there, Charity feels better and begins to pursue the unsuspecting star. Vitorrio is captivated by Charity’s innocence and optimism and gives Charity tokens of his (platonic) affection . . . just as Ursula returns to his apartment! Vitorrio ‘sweet talks’ Ursula in the time honoured way and Charity leaves with her tokens. Charity’s friends are sceptical of her story but Charity’s optimism is infectious (even in the Fandango ballroom) and they all dream of ‘Something Better Than This’. Charity decides to ‘improve herself’ with a night class and meets Oscar (a nervous accountant with claustrophobia denial) in a lift. The lift gets stuck . . . and Oscar becomes unstuck! Charity comforts him until they are rescued and they agree to meet again – but Charity is afraid to tell Oscar her real occupation and lets him believe she works in a bank. On their first date they decide to visit this month’s recommended ‘Church of the Month’. The ‘Rhythm of Life’ church. They are a very devout group sought after by hippys, pot heads . . . and the police! Oscar is convinced that Charity is the woman of his dreams. She is innocent and pure (and obviously doesn’t dance with strange men for a living). Charity keeps her terrible secret.
Eventually Charity can bear the deception no more and plucks up the courage to tell Oscar the truth. Oscar, it turns out, already knows. He loves her too much to let her past come between them. He decides to ignore her past ‘indiscretions’ and they arrange to be married. Charity is bubbling over with the news and returns to the Fandango to proclaim that she is getting out! Her friends throw a farewell party. Oscar arrives just as the singing and dancing are becoming riotous and doesn’t like what he sees. They argue over her past. Oscar cannot accept her for who she is and he leaves her. Charity is distraught but (once again) she picks herself up and lives ‘hopefully ever after’.
The score includes “Big Spender”, “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This”, “If They Could See Me Now”, “I Love To Cry At Weddings” and the show stopping hippy rave “The Rhythm of Life”.