Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Thoroughly Modern Millie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2005 by Carl A. Rossi


"THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE"

book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan,

based on the original story and screenplay by Richard Morris

new music by Jeanine Tesori

new lyrics by Dick Scanlan

directed and choreographed by Barry Ivan

musical direction by Dale Rieling

Millie Dillmount … Milena Govich
Jimmy Smith … Ryan Silverman
Ruth … Michelle Dyer
Gloria … Melissa A. Rouse-Stuart
Rita … Maggie Anderson
Alice … Rosanne Colosi
Ethel Peas … Kathy Meyer
Cora … Jennifer Taylor
Lucille … Jenelle Engleson
Mrs. Meers … Beth McVey
Miss Dorothy Brown … Amanda Serkasevich
Ching Ho … David Rhee
Bun Foo … Telly Leung
Miss Flannery … Becky Barta
Mr. Trevor Graydon … Richard Roland
Speed Tappists … David Baum; Kevin B. Worley
The Pearl Lady … Jenelle Engleson
The Letch … Kevin B. Worley
Officer … Jeremy Hays
Muzzy Van Hossmere … Terry Burrell
George Gershwin … Kevin B. Worley
Dorothy Parker … Maggie Anderson
Rodney … Nathan Scherich
Kenneth … Peter King-Yen
Dishwasher … Kevin B. Worley
Muzzy’s Boys … Brad Davis; David Baum; Jeremy Hay; Drew Humphrey
Daphne … Maggie Anderson
Dexter … Nathan Scherich
New Modern … Jennifer Taylor

Ensemble:

Maggie Anderson; Brad Bass; David Baum; Rosanne Colosi;
Michelle Dyer; Jenelle Engleson; Jeremy Hays; Drew Humphrey;
Peter King-Yuen; Kathy Meyer; Melissa A. Rouse-Stuart;
Nathan Scherich; Jennifer Taylor; Kevin B. Worley

Orchestra:

Conductor; Keyboard … Dale Reiling
Alto Sax; Flute; Clarinet … Ernest Sola III
Tenor Sax; Oboe; Clarinet … Rod Ferland
Baritone Sax; Clarinet; Bass Clarinet … Tom Ferrante
Trumpet … Jay Daly
Trumpet … Ross Hill
Trombone … Walter Bostian
Bass Trombone; Tuba … Don Robinson
Keyboard … Brian Cimmet
Bass … Richard Appleman
Drum; Percussion … Stephen Giunta

Attending the film version of THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE must have been a rite of passage in the late 1960s for whenever I confess to never having seen it, eyebrows are raised in surprise. Other than it being a vehicle for Julie Andrews, America’s sweetheart of the Vietnam era, I know nothing about the film save for its Oscar-winning soundtrack. I’ll assume that its Broadway adaptors have kept the main plot --- Millie Dillmount, a small-town girl, comes to 1920s New York, bobs her hair and sets her heart upon marrying her handsome boss simply because it is the Modern Thing to Do; she ends up in the arms of smooth-talking Jimmy Smith, a paper-clip salesman with whom she has shared a mutual antagonism; the subplot involves white slavery --- and they have jettisoned most of the original songs which were mostly standards, anyway, retaining the bouncy title number and the wistful love ballad, “Jimmy”. I’ll also assume that some modern-day tinkering has taken place: Hollywood at the time would never have closed a film with either an interracial coupling or a potentially homosexual one.

North Shore’s production begins with director/choreographer Barry Ivan and his cast sending up everything with a vengeance resulting in an Act One as cute and mechanical as all those tapping toes and typewriters, save for the sultry number “Only in New York” delivered by the radiant Terry Burrell. In Act Two, everyone bites into the show’s sweetness, finds it is not so cloying after all and starts to have fun with MILLIE in such numbers as “I Turned the Corner” where Millie and Jimmy slow-dance out on a window ledge and two inserted standards: the Victor Herbert duet “I’m Falling in Love with Someone”, so outdated in its romance that all it needs is a pair of lusty voices to tweak it, and a rendition of “Mammy” so brilliantly simple in its hilarity that to describe it any further would only ruin it for others.

Milena Govich, the delectable mistress in North Shore’s production of NINE, is blessed with legs right out of a dream; whenever her Millie employs them in dance, all is well. Otherwise, Ms. Govich is rock-hard, this time around, instead of being a breathless girl getting into all kinds of scrapes in the name of emancipation; her vamping of her boss is not unlike Sigourney Weaver’s alien on the prowl. Paired off with such hardness, leading men Ryan Silverman and Richard Roland may strike some as being too bland which is too bad for they are old-fashioned musical comedy charmers, with Mr. Silverman’s sweet tenor recalling his equally sweet Tony in North Shore’s WEST SIDE STORY and Mr. Roland as a singing Arrow Man come to life. Becky Barta is once again wasted in a minor role: has anyone at North Shore ever seen Ms. Barta in ALWAYS…PATSY CLINE and know what a little powerhouse they have on their hands?

"Thoroughly Modern Millie" (26 April - 5 May)
NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE
62 Dunham Road, BEVERLY, MA
1 (978) 232-7200

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