Review: Thoroughly Modern Millie
Theater: Goodspeed Opera House
Reviewer: Howard Steven Frydman
The countdown to summer has begun- drawn like a bee to his nectar- I joyously make my first seasonal sojourn (since my recent bypass surgery) to a rare flower – set atop by the majestic Connecticut River- it can only bee- The One – The Only – The Goodspeed Opera House. Their initial offering- the first of three musicals presented for the 2017 season – “Thoroughly Modern Millie. With a book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan and includes new music by Jeanine Tesori, new lyrics by Scanlan and is directed and choreographed by Denis Jones. My friends, let me tell you what all the buzz is about- TMM is a very welcomed delight, a toe-tapping, flip flapping, red-hot jazzy, bees knees of a good time!! Let me tell You – musical Comedy at its raucous best- so here it goes!
I love musicals that have wacky characters, screwball storylines, high kicking dancers and memorable music- and this meets all my criteria with a capital TMM- and that stands for “Thoroughly Modern Millie” – you should’ve seen my “beaming” smile as I descended from the grand opera staircase after the performance- I coulda lit up Long Island sound, but I digress- let’s start at the start- shall we?
As many of you may already know TMM started its life as a movie musical in 1967 starring musical superstars Julie Andrews, Carol Channing, and coming off her role as “Laura” in the “Dick Van Dyke” show Mary Tyler Moore- later it made its way to Broadway in 2002 with a few changes in storyline and music- but the tale stays the same- it’s circa 1920ish and everything is modern – thoroughly! Journeying to NYC – our heroine “Kansas Born”- Millie Dillmount (Taylor Quick) has plans – big plans and that include marring her boss for money and not for love- by Gosh, by Gee, by Jimminy!!!!
Millie quickly transforms herself from a “bug-eyed Betty” to a be-bobbed, hot diggity “it girl” flapper. Yet in a Clara Bow snap of a finger moment she gets purloined- suitcase, purse, money – all gone – all awhile meeting up with paper clip salesman Jimmy Smith (Dan DeLuca). No money, no where to go what’s a gal to do? – in Millie’s case it’s off to where the vacancy neon lights is a revolving door- the Hotel Pricilla for aspiring actresses. Here we are introduced to ex-actress and “white slaver” the wickedly wicked – Mrs. Meers (Loretta Ables Sayre) who has a fondness for orphans- “Sad to be all alone in the world.” hmmmm??! In quick succession we are acquainted with Millie’s roommate, the innocent and wide-eyed Miss Dorothy Brown (Samantha Storm), the boss she plans to marry – Trevor Graydon (Edward Watts), nightclub singer and wealthy widow Muzzy Van Hossmere (Ramona Keller) and Mrs Meer’s two Chinese faithful flunkys – Bun Foo (Christopher Shin) and Ching Ho (James Seol).
The production:- Ok- the first thing that hits ya square in the eyes is the extraordinary ’20 costume design on the cast and ensemble. Costume designer and two time Tony nominee Gregory Gale has brought all the razzmatazz of that “modern” era to the Goodspeed stage – and it shows especially in their first dance number- the plays namesake “Thoroughly Modern Millie”- it’s the cat’s meow!! Our lead Millie- Taylor Quick, is a singing sensation- and not a bad typer as well- I loved her “Razz-matazz” rendition of “The Speed Test”! Loretta Ables Sayre is perfectly cast as the dastardly Mrs. Meers- I just wished she had added a bit more exaggerated Meers meanness-madness to the role. Romona Keller is delicious in her role as “Muzzy”- what a voice on this gal- reminded me a bit like Carol Channing – If only Director Denis Jones had added the songs “Jazz Baby” and “Baby Face”, from the original TMM film, it would have been a perfect match for Miss Keller’s sweet and sexy vocal stylings. Finally, I am in love with Lucia Spina’s elbows and her portrayal as put-apon secretary Miss Flannery- all eyes are on Miss Spina and her elbows whenever she is on stage- so you better go see TMM to see why!!! So there!!
This is no bum’s rush- I am truly backing this first musical entry at the Goodspeed Opera House. As Julie Andrews once said – It’s practically perfect in every way” – hmm, maybe that was another film that “popped” into my head- but you get my drift- “Thoroughly Modern Millie” will leave you with a “Happy Healing Healthy” glow – make a bee line to Haddam and enjoy a night of pure theatrical joy!! Enjoy!!
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” will run April 21st through July 2nd, 2017. Curtain times are Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (with select performances at 2:00 p.m.), Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. (with select performances at 6:30 p.m.).
Tickets are available through the Box Office (860.873.8668), open seven days a week, or on-line at goodspeed.org.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at Howardbatv@aol.com