Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Thoroughly Modern Millie"

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entire contents copyright 2008 by Tony Annicone

"Thoroughly Modern Millie"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Uncommon Theatre Company's current show is "Thoroughly Modern Millie" which won six Tony Awards for Best Musical of 2002. The show takes place in 1922 and is the story of small town girl from Kansas who follows her dreams to New York where she finds romance, adventure and above all fun. This show displays the excitement and exuberance of the Jazz Age with its fantastic 1920's music and breathtaking dances of that era. Director Meg Dussault captures the essence of New York in the 1920's with wonderful music dirction by Linda Barbieri and orchestra direction by Shannon Manley. Choreographer Karen Anderson's inventive dance numbers leave the audience cheering these talented young people from start to finish earning them a standing ovation at the close of the show.

Meg blocks the show very well, making sure the audience gets a chance to observe all the action of the show.Karen's dance numbers are exquisite and include many different style including the Charleston, tap dance, jazz and some typewriter dancing, too. The youngsters voices blend well in a harmonic balance which Linda taught them while Shannon's orchestra shines, too. Pretty brunette Sarah Shear plays the title role of Millie Dillmount which is like Sweet Charity who looks for love in all the wrong places. She is a multitalented high school freshman who richly deserves the standing ovation awarded her at the close of the show. Sarah gets to show off her beautiful singing voice in ballads as well as her belting voice in the best number in the show called "Gimme, Gimme" where she finally realizes love is the most important ingredient in a relationship. This number reminds you of a Judy Garland song. Millie's modern philosophy is that a woman chooses the man she wants marry and that's that, showing her naivete as small town girl in the big city. Sarah's songs include "Not For the Life of Me" about her never going back home, "Thoroughly Modern Millie" where she leads the chorus as she changes into a flapper complete with short skirt and bobbed hair and the beautiful ballad "Jimmy" where she realizes the man she has been pursuing is the wrong man for her. She gets to show off her range in this song as well as in the duet, "I Turned the Corner". Sarah leads the chorus in a comic tap number called "Forget About the Boy" and a wild drunken song called "The Nuttycracker Suite" based on the music of Tchaikovsky. Brava.

Johnny Fullerton an eighth grader plays Jimmy Smith who Millie forces to help her on her first day in New York when she gets mugged. He hides a secret which the audience learns about later in the show. He realizes he must give up his playboy ways after falling in love with Millie. His glorious tenor voice soars in "I Turned the Corner" and the quartet version of "I'm Falling in Love with Someone" while he displays his dancing ability in the Gene Kelly prison style dance called "What Do I Need with Love?".Rachel Johnston plays the wealthy, Muzzy Van Hossmere, the toast of New York. Her first song is a bluesy number called "Only in New York" while her second song is a dance number called "Long As I'm Here with You'. She is a hoot when disguised in a Bo Peep outfit pretending to be an orphan. David Mizzoni plays Millie's very haughty and rich boss, Trevor Greydon. He tests her skills in "The Speed Test" which is an updated version of "Modern Major General" written by Arthur Sullivan. (The chorus girls do a dance with their typewriters which is hilarious.) His strong baritone voice is also heard in "Ah Sweet Mystery of Life? and "I'm Falling in Love with Someone''. He is very funny as this stuffed shirt who falls in love with Miss Dorothy at first sigh.(He will be attending NYU in the fall.) Katie Vincent will be attending NYU, too is a hoot as the rich naive girl who wants to be poor. Katie's glorious soprano voice soars in her duets "How the Other Half Lives" with Sarah and her love songs with David. She gets to show off her dancing ability in the chorus numbers but it is her acting as the dippy young California actress that will keep you laughing at her all night long.

One of the biggest scene stealers is Alina Ostrow as Mrs. Meers, a disguised Chinese landlady who is really an excon. Her Chinese accent is hilarious and her antics as the dragon lady are wild and over the top. Her first song, "They Don't Know" reveals her true identity to the audience but her character believes she is the best actress in the world. Her second number is "Muquin" done with her town Chinese sidekicks. There is a video screen which translates these lyrics as "Mammy" and all the Chinese dialogue, too. Alina is splendid as is her comic character acting. Lee Cohen as Ching Ho who has a secret crush on Miss Dorothy and Josh Marcus-Blank as his brother Bun Foo are also two comic gems in this high energy show. Their acting, singing and dancing in Chinese are laugh out loud moments. Another wonderful character is Miss Flannery played by Kelsey Sullivan who leads the girls in a tap dance in Act 2. Kudos to the entire cast and crew who make this a show to be proud of. So for a trip back to the carefree and wild days of the Roaring Twenties", be sure to catch "Thoroughly Modern Millie".

"Thoroughly Modern Millie" ( 2 - 4 May)
1 School Street, FOXBORO, MA
1 (508) 698-3098

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide