note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Beverly Creasey
The Reagle Players’ cheeky motto is “Broadway musicals at prices Broadway hasn’t seen in years.” That is true—but Reagle’s special magic is in the mix of Broadway stars and the best local performers around. Time after time, the Reagle production of a Broadway show is better than the Broadway tour. I certainly liked THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE when I first saw it, but I didn’t love it until now.
Reagle stages the heck out of the wacky story of a spunky actress from Kansas who comes to New York to make a name for herself —and finds true love as soon as she gets off the bus. (I know. It’s a plot you’ve seen before.) Of course it takes a while for Millie to realize he’s the “one” but that’s what musicals are for.
The hoofing in MILLIE is sensational. You can even hear the tap dancing before it starts, in the overture! (The orchestra has never sounded so good either!) Troy Magino’s choreography is everything you’d want in a roaring ‘20s romp: wit, sophistication, style and a glorious sense of humor. Co-directors Magino and Frank Roberts manage to tickle your funny bone in every scene. And if you think there are better dancers in New York, well, to quote Mr. Gilbert of Gilbert & Sullivan (Doesn’t everyone?) “If that’s your idea, you’re wrong.” By the by, one of the best numbers in the show is “borrowed” from G&S. You’ll have a ball sleuthing out all the other hilarious musical attributions.
Broadway and soap star Erin Riegel is a bundle of dynamite as the spunky Millie and Andy McLeavey is gangbusters as the guy who falls for her, quite literally in the first scene and almost from a window ledge in Act II. His competition in the romance department is deadpan funny man Edward Watts---You’ll never, never guess who he ends up with! Don’t even try. Janelle Anne Robinson stops the show as the blues belting millionaires and there are so many delicious comic parts in MILLIE that I don’t know where to start.
Ellen Peterson is a stitch as the stone-faced office manager with the gorgeous elbows (just like Katisha in THE MIKADO). Siobhaun Maus and Mr. Watts outdo Nelson Eddie and Jeanette McDonald in the operetta department with Ms. Maus delightfully ingenued-past-her-prime, a la Mary Pickford in banana curls.
Maryann Zschau gets to tear down the house, one ‘blick’ at a time as a Duse of a treacherous doozy, masquerading as a Dragon Lady: It’s not possible to describe. Zschau and her zany cohorts, Arthur Kwan and Sage Park, have to be seen to be understood. (It’s OK, you get subtitles, not to mention Al Jolson, overhead!) Suffice it to say: Run, dance, hitchhike your way to Waltham but don’t miss MILLIE. I’m going back to see it again.