Thoroughly Modern Millie is a musical based on the movie, which stared Julie Andrews and Carol Channing in 1967. Opening on Broadway in 2002 the production won 6 Tony Awards, and starred Sutton Foster.
Set in 1922, this farcical musical has love, mayhem and white slavery – all of those endearing qualities that bring us back to the theatre time and again.
In my research of the show, I came across the original Broadway version with Sutton Foster. The production team at UMMTA had also seen this production, and recreated it scene for scene. I don’t have an issue with companies copying the original Broadway production, but I think it would be fair if they gave credit where credit is due. Unfortunately, this was not the case in this instance.
In saying that, what they did deliver was very slick, sharp and together.
Director Spencer Hadlow knew the strengths of his cast and made the most of them. The pace was kept tight, and the show overall was very enjoyable.
Taylen Furness was musical director, and, for the most part, all the music went smoothly. With the orchestra out the back and the cast with only one monitor at the back of the theatre from which to get their queues, this did become problematic for some of the more difficult numbers in the show, including the patter song.
Choreographer Keshia Continia should be congratulated for successfully reproducing such a difficult show dance wise. Knowing your dancers limits is always a good thing, but Contini pushed her performers right to the edge, and it paid off.
The lighting and sound were on the most part were good, and the set design, although clumsy in some parts, worked well.
As Miss Mille Dillmount, Grace Haslinghouse was like a young Sutton Foster. Strong singing voice, great dancing abilities and good acting skills, this young lady is a powerhouse! Her love interest in the show, Jimmy Smith, was Tom Kantor. He had great comic timing and also a strong singing voice. Bringing to comedy to the front was Niamh O’Keefe’s hilarious characterization of Mrs Meers. O’Keefe’s had a strong grip on her character, and also has a strong singing voice. Sad to be all alone in the world!
Rafaela Cleeve Gerken was lovely, just lovely as Miss Dorothy. Gerken gave us a suitably naïve character, and had a sweet singing voice to match.
Helena Duniec as Muzzy Van Hossere was no Carol Channing, but held her own when singing the blues. Simon Wright as Trevor Graydon needs to watch his diction, putting on a funny voice can sometimes interfere with what is being said and sung, and although in tune, I couldn’t understand half of what Wright was saying. This was apart from the patter song, in which I hardly understood a word.
Tom Lew as Ching Ho together with David Vien as Bun Foo could have made more of their time on stage. I believe as comedy roles, they could have added a lot more physical humour to the parts.
Sarah Brown as Miss Flannery, the hard faced supervisor of the office, came into her own when singing ‘Jimmy’, giving us an insight as to why she ended up the way she did!
All in all, UMMTA have a very solid production of Millie and is well worth seeing.