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Southern Florida by John Lariviere


Thoroughly Modern Millie

Also see John's review of Baby and his interview with Robin Braun, Executive Artistic Director

Thoroughly Modern MillieThe 1967 film Thoroughly Modern Millie starring Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Channing and Beatrice Lilly, and featuring music by George and Ira Gershwin, Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen, and Elmer Bernstein, paved the way for the successful 2002 stage version of the same name. The stage musical features music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Dick Scanlan, and a book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan.  It opened on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre on April 15, 2002, and ran for 903 performances, receiving six Tony Awards and five Drama Desk Awards.

Set in 1922, Thoroughly Modern Millie tells the story of small-town girl Millie Dillmount, who comes from Salina, Kansas to New York City determined to marry for money instead of love. She embraces becoming "thoroughly modern" by bobbing her hair, donning clothing in the style of a flapper, joining the work force as a stenographer, and setting herself up in a room at the Hotel Priscilla for Women.  Though Millie plans to marry her wealthy boss at the Sincere Trust Insurance Company, Trevor Graydon III, she finds herself taken with a poor, madcap paper clip salesman named Jimmy Smith. 

Millie befriends a wealthy, aspiring actress named Miss Dorothy Brown who is also staying at the Hotel Priscilla, where hotel owner Mrs. Meers is secretly running a white slavery ring.  Mrs. Meers preys on the young women staying in her hotel, selling those without any family into white slavery in China after drugging them.  Mrs. Meers is only able to do this with the help of her hotel employees, brothers Bun Foo and Ching Ho, whom she has promised will be rewarded with their mother being brought to the United States.  The girls staying at the hotel end up at the penthouse of the glamorous nightclub singer Muzzy van Hossmere after a night on the town.  The story unfolds from there to a rightfully happy ending with a few surprise twists along the way.

The choreography for the production of Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Broward Stage Door, by Chrissi Ardito, is nicely staged and performed by the ensemble. The set is functional but not as lavish as could have been provided.  The costumes are lovely, though the costumer missed the mark with those chosen for the character of Trevor Graydon III, incorrectly dressing him as a "modern."  He is in fact the opposite of Jimmy, who is a modern, and should have been in Ivy League wear, rather than in achingly colorful clothes and mock zoot suits.  Some of the scene transitions scene technically sluggish.  Though the show is well tracked, scene change music would have helped smooth out the edges. 

Kirstin Riegler is charming as Millie, and she sings the role quite well. Sam Underwood is the perfect Jimmy;  he is full of talent and has the right energy for the role.  Vicki White as Miss Dorothy has poise and sweetness.  Mark A. Harmon is dapper as Trevor Graydon.  The direction of these two characters by Dan Keeley, however, is just melodramatic enough to make it seem like they are not playing with a full deck when compared to the way the rest of the cast is playing the show.  Despite the entertainment value of them playing over-the-top, the portrayals throw the show a bit off balance.

Paulette Dozier as Muzzy is both elegant and earthy.  Her singing is lovely, though her acting sometimes seems stilted.  A thoroughly enjoyable Cari L. Chrisostomou as Mrs. Meers is very clear in her acting choices and going in and out of her accents.  Though a tad young for the role, she does it with more dexterity than more seasoned actresses. 

Thoroughly Modern Millie appeared at the Broward Stage Door Theatre from February 22, 2008 - March 30, 2008. The theater is located at 8036 W. Sample Rd in Coral Springs, Florida. The Stage Door Theatre is a not-for-profit professional theatre company hiring local and non-local nonunion actors and actresses. Their two stages in Coral Springs as well as their 26th Street Theatre location in Ft. Lauderdale are open year round.  For tickets and information on their season, you may contact them by phone at 954-344-7765 or on line at www.stagedoortheatre.com.

Cast
Millie: Kirstin Riegler
Jimmy: Sam Underwood
Miss Dorothy: Vicki White
Mr. Graydon: Mark A. Harmon
Mrs. Meers: Cari L. Chrisostomou
Muzzy: Paulette Dozier
Miss Flannery: Gina Nespoli
Bun Foo: M. Quimen Sanchez
Ching Ho: Jonathan Lee
Female Ensemble: Emily Jan Bender, Jessica Lyn Davis, Alice Eacho, Katie Schwartz
Male Ensemble: Dominic Benevento, Tim Dolan, John Hensley, Ryan Lingle

Crew
Director: Dan Kelley
Music Director: Phil Hinton
Choreographer: Chrissi Ardito
Set Design: Dan Kelley and Stage Door Scenic
Lighting Design: Ardean Landhuis
Sound Design: Martin Mets
Costumes: Anna Torres
Stage Manger: Jamie Cooper


See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere



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