Transforming the Royal Exchange into the hustle and bustle of New York City, Derek Bond returns to the theatre this Christmas to direct the Tony-nominated Broadway hit Sweet Charity. Bursting at the seams with instantly recognisable hit songs (Rhythm of Life, Big Spender, and If My Friends Could See Me Now) and choreography by Aletta Collins this show, which defined a decade, is created by the team behind the 2014 sell-out success Little Shop Of Horrors.

Charity Hope Valentine (played by Kaisa Hammarlund) is a dancer in New York City. With a heart tattooed on her arm and always looking for love, she has a habit of falling for the wrong man. When she meets shy tax accountant Oscar it seems as though Charity’s luck might have changed. Their romance sends them whirling and spinning through the dance halls, churches and streets of 1960s New York. But not everything’s a walk in the park and Charity soon faces a choice between Oscar and the wild existence she has chosen to hide from him.

Derek Bond’s work for the Exchange includes the hugely successful Little Shop of Horrors which was nominated for 3 Manchester Theatre Awards. Other credits include As You LIke It by William Shakespeare (Southwark Playhouse), Microcosm (Soho Theatre), Shiver and Lost in Yonkers (Watford Palace, 2012), and Floyd Collins (Southwark Playhouse) which was named Best Musical at the Off West End Awards, and was nominated for the Ned Sherrin Award for Best Musical at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.

Aletta Collins was born in London, studied at the London Contemporary Dance School and was a dancer and choreographer for London Contemporary Dance Theatre. She is a former Associate Artist at the Royal Opera House, where her work included choreographing and directing The Red Balloon, Cocteau Voices and Magical Night in the Linbury Studio Theatre. Aletta won Best Choreographer at the 2012 Music Video Awards for Losing Myself by Will Young. Choreographic work includes: Wind In The Willows (Plymouth & National Tour); The Hairy Ape (Old Vic); Bend It Like Beckham (Phoenix Theatre); Made in Dagenham (Adelphi Theatre); La Traviata (Glyndebourne Festival and UK Tour); and Anna Nicole (Royal Opera House and Brooklyn Academy of Music).

Kaisa Hammarlund trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre arts. Originally from Sweden, Kaisa’s theatre work includes Bakkhai (Almeida Theatre); Can I Be Straight With You?/ Courting Drama (The Bush Theatre); The Sculptress in The Captain of Kopenick (NT, directed by Adrian Noble); Juno in The Tempest (Theatre Royal, Bath, directed by Adrian Noble); and Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (Malmo, Sweden).

The cast is completed by Lucy Jane Adcock, Christine Allado, Michelle Andrews, Josie Benson, Olly Christopher, Michelle Cornelius, Daniel Crossley, Bob Harms, Natalie Hope, Cat Simmons, Holly Dale Spencer, Sévan Stephan and Alex Thomas-Smith.

Sweet Charity is performed at the Royal Exchange Theatre from 3 December 2016 until 21 January 2017.

Royal Exchange Theatre.  image credit University of Salford Press Office/flickr under creative commons licence.