Holiday Actors Opens Sweet Charity and There is No Sweeter Sound

Sweet Charity Review by Aradie Walters

32 years and 40 musical productions. Holiday Actors has a rich history of not only putting on quality shows, but of nurturing young people in their skills and confidence, and giving them opportunities to lead. As a past “HA kid” myself, I have experienced firsthand the value of peer-mentoring that this company offers. This summer’s production of Sweet Charity is not only yet another first class theatrical experience for Warrnambool audiences, but it is the product of a group of young people who have “stepped up” in every sense of the word.

HA326As the overture begins, the audience is struck by the large, full sound of an enormous 24-piece orchestra led by 19 year old, Nikki Nuske. Fresh off the back of musically directing Godspell in 2016, this production marks Nikki’s first time actually conducting – something you would never guess to watch her as she smoothly guides the polished orchestra through each rousing chorus, with the subtleties of dynamics and articulation making those well-known songs larger than life.

The lights come up on the title character, Charity Hope Valentine, played by 15 year old Zara Lukeis. Again, there is surprise to learn that this is Zara’s first lead role, as she is mesmerising to watch. Her vocal tone is clear and pitch-perfect, but it is when she dances that you can feel her joy.

The dancing in this show is something worth mentioning all on its own. 22 year old choreographer, Emily Trigg, is the only veteran on the young direction team with Sweet Charity marking her fifth production with Holiday Actors. Emily is a master interpreter, and has really brought her own flair to the Bob Fosse style. The dances are not only polished and well-executed, but visually interesting to watch, with different layers of focus.

Something that struck me about Sweet Charity is how funny it is, in absurd and surprising ways. Stand out performances that had me giggling out loud include Lyndon Hurley, 17, in the role of the Italian movie star, Vittorio Vidal. Last time I saw Lyndon on stage, he was Jean Valjean. He could not be more different now with his over-the-top accent, soap-opera smiles and little winks to the audience. There is also the nervous and socially awkward Oscar, played by Gabriel Tejano, 17 – another newbie to musical theatre, having impulsively decided to audition for the school musical last year.

One of the biggest moments of the show is the opening song of Act 2, with that song made famous by Sammy Davis Jr., Rhythm of Life. This scene is loud and colourful, and led by the very funny and very talented Keelan Mast, 17, in the role of the enigmatic leader of the Rhythm of Life Church. I had been looking forward to seeing this song and it surpassed all my expectations.

There are way too many excellent cameo performances in this show to name, although I would dearly love to! Something that first-time directors Caleb Ziegeler, 23, and Tobin Varley, 19, have excelled at is encouraging the ensemble not to just be “background people”. They each have their own quirky characters and little moments to shine, never drawing focus from the main action, but instead adding authenticity to it. That, together with their masterful vocal performances, overseen by Vocal Director Rebecca Fullerton, 19, this ensemble act as a team, and you can see in every moment how much they’re enjoying themselves.

This whole production is simply a lot of fun. Slightly tweaked to be family-friendly, Sweet Charity is a rollicking, not-to-be-taken-too-seriously show about hope and optimism, that will leave the audience smiling and humming to themselves.

Sweet Charity opens tonight at the Lighthouse Theatre and continues Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, all at 7:30pm, with a matinee also on Saturday at 1:30pm. Tickets available at the theatre or at

MEET THE SWEET CHARITY CAST – Lyndon Hurley (Vittorio Vidal)

My name is Lyndon, I’m currently 17 years old and have just completed year 11. I’ve been involved with musicals since I was in year 7, performing in many King’s College productions. Like many others I began my HA journey with Big Fish, and it has not only been the best musical I’ve ever done, but one of the best experiences in my life. Since then I’ve performed in the mid year show ‘Godspell’, another awesome and rewarding experience.

The character I play in Sweet Charity, Vittorio Vidal, is a famous Italian movie star who stumbles across Charity after his girlfriend Ursula walks out on him. Vittorio lives a relatively carefree life among famous and pompous people, and is characterised by a slightly egotistical and dramatic nature, especially towards Ursula. However, his interaction with Charity provides a breath of fresh air from his life of fame, and he finds himself intrigued and fascinated by her story and her hopeful personality. 

So far Sweet Charity has been yet another amazing journey. While rehearsals can sometimes be long and tiring, they are just as often fun and enjoyable, and it’s quite satisfying being able to master a song or dance. The show seems to really be coming along, with all the elements coming together to make something we can be proud of. The most fun I’ve had so far has to have been camp, with all the group activities, and especially red faces. I’m still so surprised at the amount of talent our cast has to offer, both on and off the stage. I’ve also enjoyed carolling with the crew at various places around Warrnambool. 

Joining Holiday Actors has given me many great opportunities to advance my skills on the stage, and over the last year since completing Big Fish I’ve been able to improve my singing and dancing abilities. However, what’s really important to me about HA is the friendships and memories that have been, and continue to be made. I’m so thankful to be a part of such a close, tight-knit group of individuals, and it’s what keeps me coming back to each HA show. Not only does our small community put on some of the best performances in our area, but we have the most fun doing it, and that’s what makes HA so special.

Sweet Charity may not be the most well known musical, but it certainly has a lot to offer, from large musical numbers, exotic Bob Fosse styled dancing, and a touching personal journey of the main character. It tells a story of rising above ones circumstances, dealing with heartbreak, and remaining hopeful even when times are tough. I think most people, no matter how old, will be able to relate to the main character and her adventures in some way. It’s certainly a musical that everyone can see and enjoy, so come along to the lighthouse and let us take you on a journey you won’t regret!

Book by Neil Simon / Music by Cy Coleman / Lyrics by Dorothy Fields Based on an original screenplay by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano / Produced for the Broadway stage by Fryer, Carr and Harris / Conceived, staged and choreographed by Bob Fosse

MEET THE SWEET CHARITY CAST – Dayne Eggers (One of Daddy’s Assistant)

I’m Dayne Eggers, 18 years old, and am a typical theatre geek. Sweet Charity is my third production with Holiday Actors, the first two being West Side Story and Big Fish. I’ve always had a keen interest in acting and performing but never really had the opportunity to try acing, singing, and dancing all in one show before HA. Thanks to Holiday Actors I can confidently say the three disciplines of musical theatre are far better combined than by themselves. I love the stage, I love performing, and I love the ability I have as a performer to interact with and audience in such a unique and individual way.

I’m one of Daddy’s Assistants, his most devoted followers. The other three assistants and I are Daddy’s closest confidants who are always by his side and help him operate the Church of the Rhythm of Life. While we all came to Daddy and his Church in a different way, the four assistants all believe in Daddy’s teachings as law. We shall never put our mother and father down, we shall honour our debts, grievances, and alimonies, we shall not falsify our name at the unemployment bureau, and we shall respect our obligations and report each month to the police, as per Daddy’s teachings.

Rehearsals are intensive, exhausting, but oh-so-fun. After a six-hour day of singing, dancing, and acting it’s fair to say the entire cast wants nothing more than a decent nap, however those long days also come with a great sense of accomplishment too. It’s a good feeling going home and knowing you nailed that dance or harmony. Not to mention spending a day doing what you love with a group of fantastic, friendly people who love it too is wonderful.

I love Holiday Actors because of the memories I’ve made in the shows and friendships I’ve formed within the cast. Honestly, Holiday Actors productions never fail to be the highlight of my year. I can’t describe it accurately but I know other cast members both past and present will agree: there’s just something phenomenal about working as hard as you can with close friends doing the same to put on a show for adoring audiences. I’ll never forget my time as a part of Holiday Actors.

There isn’t one single reason why you should come see Sweet Charity. The show has spectacular dances, songs, and moments. It tells a story of hope, love, friendship and personal development. But most importantly, the cast performing it are a bunch of brilliant, devoted, and young talented people who have worked tirelessly for months to be able to put on the best show possible just for you. Not to make you feel guilty, but you don’t wanna disappoint all 50 of us, do you?

Sweet Charity mightn’t be as wholesome as Disney or anything, but it’s still definitely family-friendly with a close focus on appropriate themes. The production is full of life and colour and is guaranteed to entertain all ages. The show is easily enjoyable for children and adults alike with its flashy songs and dances. The cast and I can’t wait to see you there, big spender!

Book by Neil Simon / Music by Cy Coleman / Lyrics by Dorothy Fields Based on an original screenplay by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano / Produced for the Broadway stage by Fryer, Carr and Harris / Conceived, staged and choreographed by Bob Fosse



Angela headshots2TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF: I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts. My favourite things are my cats, binge watching Blue Water High, eating avocados, photography, spending time with my family and obviously musical theatre!

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER: My character has a very deep backstory, her birth name Beatrice was adapted to Betsy as she moved from Paris to America to begin a new life due to being banished from the Moulin Rouge at age 17 after one small indiscretion. She was left on the streets until she stumbled upon the Fandango Ballroom, where she now works with Charity.

TELL US ABOUT REHEARSALS: Sweet Charity rehearsals are so much fun, I love every single song and all the dance numbers! After doing a number like The Rhythm of Life I can’t stop smiling for hours.

WHY DO YOU LOVE HOLIDAY ACTORS? Holiday Actors has changed my life, I’ve met like minded people and I feel like I really truly belong. It’s such a wonderful environment with such wonderful people. I look around the room and am ever so grateful for every single person and member. Together every year we can put on such an amazing show, it’s a wonderful team and a big happy family and I wouldn’t want to spend my summer anywhere else.

WHY SHOULD WE GO AND SEE SWEET CHARITY? Because it’s a wonderful upbeat show that will have songs stuck in your head for days! The cast, crew and directors are amazing and have really worked hard to create this incredible show!

WHY IS SWEET CHARITY GREAT FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY? It’s great for the whole family because it tells a story with lots of great musical numbers. The songs are catchy and fun and will have you singing for days!

Book by Neil Simon / Music by Cy Coleman / Lyrics by Dorothy Fields Based on an original screenplay by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano / Produced for the Broadway stage by Fryer, Carr and Harris / Conceived, staged and choreographed by Bob Fosse

MEET THE CAST – Keelan Mast (Daddy) and Chloe McInnes (Ursula)

Keelan Mast

Keelan headshotTELL US ABOUT YOURSELF: My name is Keelan mast, I have been acting for 14 years, my first show was kids summer nights dream with primary performers in 2004 where I played the roll of pucks assistant (My director, Caleb actually played the role of Puck). I love performing, I am also in a band called cheeky fellas. I’m not sure who I would be without theatre and music, I don’t think I could imagine a life without them. In my spare time I love to indulge in Aunty Donna and the Eric Andre show.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER: Daddy is quite a unique character, he started out in San Fransisco tooting on his trumpet loud and mean living a normal life, he then moved on and grew bigger to where he now runs his own secret church where he is worshipped by all who follow him. Playing the role of daddy allows me to really experiment with my acting and movement abilities within a character. Daddy’s character is free willing, and very relaxed, giving the impression of being high on life. Daddy is a generic 70s hippie.

TELL US ABOUT REHEARSALS: the rehearsals have been awesome! Can’t get enough of them, sweet charity is really coming along, I love the story line and the journey charity takes us on!

WHY DO YOU LOVE HOLIDAY ACTORS? Holiday actors is the one time that I get to meet new people, and become friends with so many people of all ages, I love holiday actors because it’s a non judgmental group and it gives me a place where I can be myself!

WHY SHOULD WE GO AND SEE SWEET CHARITY? Come and see sweet charity if you don’t you will 100% regret it! There is a wide range of actors, and jokes for all ages, it gives younger kids a chance to see what they might want to be when they’re older. It really is fun for the whole family!

Chloe McInnes

Chloe headshotTELL US ABOUT YOURSELF: I’m Chloe, I’m seventeen and I love the wonderful world of musical theatre. I love preforming and getting to create and bring a story to life with people who also love to perform.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER: I play Ursula, the girlfriend of the Italian movie star Vittorio. Ursula is high maintenance and considers herself very high class. On the surface she upholds the façade that she’s very independent and able to fly solo without Vittorio by her side, but deep down she does care deeply for him and reveals her true feelings when she feels she might be about to lose him. Ursula is a fun character to play because her two base emotions she exhibits is complete anger and fury and total upset and despair. At first glance those two emotions are easy to portray, but it leaves a lot of room to explore a deeper side to Ursula and discover more about what drives her, her passions and develop her characteristics.

TELL US ABOUT REHEARSALS: Rehearsals for Sweet Charity have been well underway for months and it’s been so wonderful getting to know everyone within our cast. From the time of our first rehearsal we’ve become a tight knit family that supports each other, even on days when we’re all tired and exhausted.

WHY DO YOU LOVE HOLIDAY ACTORS: I’ve been a member of this theatre company for almost five years now and every year it’s so much fun getting to spend the summer with dedicated people who love to perform as much as you do. Every year I love getting to know new members, as well as reuniting with returning members and watching old and new members bond to create a stellar performance. Holiday Actors is a part of your life that you always look forward too and you never forget. Every new member becomes part of our family and every year that family expands.

WHY SHOULD WE SEE SWEET CHARITY? Sweet Charity is a show filled with hilarious comedy and outstanding musical numbers accompanied with a brilliant score that will excite and leave the whole family astonished. Holiday Actors is renowned for producing amazing show with talent performers and Sweet Charity is no exception.

WHY IS SWEET CHARITY GREAT FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY? I definitely recommend this show to anyone who loves theatre or anyone looking for a good night out. It’s a classic show that is perfect for the whole family.

Book by Neil Simon / Music by Cy Coleman / Lyrics by Dorothy Fields Based on an original screenplay by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano / Produced for the Broadway stage by Fryer, Carr and Harris / Conceived, staged and choreographed by Bob Fosse