SWEET Charity, the musical, differs from the straight plays for which the Royal Exchange has gained its enviable reputation.

It enhances it.

Dorothy Field’s lyrics and Cy Coleman’s score, not to mention Derek Bond’s direction and Aletta- Collins’ choreography, make for a lively show.

The main character is played by energetic Kaisa Hammarlund. Her interpretation of Charity Hope Valentine, is, indeed, sweet tinged with naivety.

She adds a magical touch to the role of a woman in search of love. Sadly, Charity’s first encounters with the opposite sex are far from amicable.

Whilst passers by ignore her plight, her first boy friend almost drowns her.

Her second, the more glamorous Vittorio, an Italian movie star played by a charismatic Bob Harms, rejects her for his first love.

She meets her inappropriate men between shifts at a night club where she’s paid to dance with customers.

It is the powerful dancing and singing which gives this show its allure. The band, led by Mark Aspinall, is clearly visible in its own enclosure and provides a perfect accompaniment.

Eventually, Charity finds the love she yearns in a whirling romance with Oscar, a shy tax accountant played by Daniel Crossley. Their characters couldn’t be more different.

He takes her to a church where Josie Benson as Daddy Bruebeck leads a mesmerising performance of The Rhythm of Life

Sadly, in a dramatic twist at the end, Charity loses him.

* Sweet Charity is at the Royal Exchange Theatre until January 28 2017. For tickets, telephone 0161 833 9833 or email box.office@royalexchangetheatre.co.uk. Star rating: ****