Mail Code 5711
New York, NY 10027-6902
Phone: (212) 854-9400
Fax: (212) 854-9401
CSPA is affiliated with the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in the City of New York.
Skip to navigation
Looking for love in all the big places
Broadway's Thoroughly Modern Millie brings Big City excitement to a Big Screen idea
Editor's note: Originally published: January 16, 2004
Sutton Foster and the ensemble of Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Photo : ModernMillie.com
Anyone itching for a glimpse of what 1920's America was like can immerse themselves in a song and dance experience right here in New York City.
The personalities of the era, including tap-dancing actresses who lived in transient hotels and sang on the very streets of New York are personified in the six-time Tony Award-winning musical Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Sutton Foster (Tony Award-winner, Best Lead Actress in a Musical, 2002) plays Millie Dillmount, an innocent girl trying fulfill her dream of "making it" and finding true happiness and love along the way.
Millie opens with a charming dance number to introduce the simple Kansas girl hoping to make her dream of marrying a millionaire come true in New York City.
At the Hotel Priscilla, she meets Mrs. Meers, a very comical villain who abducts orphans into White slavery.
Millie finds love and makes friends along her journey. Millie's friend Dorothy (Angela Christian) is the next victim of Meers. Together, Millie and her friends save the day, with songs by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan leading the way.
In a recent performance, neither of the two Tony Award-winning actresses who created their roles were on stage (Foster and Harriet Harris, the original Mrs. Meers), but understudy Megan Campbell in the title role and Broadway newcomer Delta Burke (now playing Mrs. Meers in a linited run) were adequate replacements.
Campbell played to the best of her abilities and easily brought the audience closer to her character's story. Burke, best known for her role on television's "Designing Women," embraces the role of "Meersy" with humor and grace. The remaining leads and emsemble cast members also delivered delightful performances.
Millie's choreography is the some of the best footwork created for stage or screen in a number of years. The musical's setting of "the Roaring 20's" easily brought the Rob Ashford varied styles to the forefront of the show, inviting the audience to join the characters in their fabricated world.
The choreography creates an energetic rush leaving the audience gasping for more. A particular scene in the musical is when Millie, Ms. Flannery and the typists tap dance while perfoming their daily typing duties. While the stage floor moves, the actresses sit on chair/desk ensembles, while moving with exquisite coordination.
Jeanine Tesori's score accurately keeps up with the fast paced dancing. Dick Scanlan's tasteful lyrics keep the songs fresh in your mind, including Millie's opening solo "Not for the Life of Me" or Graydon and Dorothy's duet, "I'm Falling in Love with Someone".
Leslie Uggams, as Muzzy Van Hossmear, has a wonderful voice that is enjoyable to listen to.
The music carries a melody of what the characters should be feeling whether it is happiness or deception. Overall the music is successful in accomplishing what it is created for which is to strengthen the audiences understanding of the scenes mood.
As most people, in the 1920's, the fashion rule was "dress to impress" and that is exactly what Martin Pakledinaz's designs accomplish for the cast. Every star in the show had some sort of flattering item from shoes to a hat.
Pakledinaz had done an excellent job of mimicry, showsing the historical style of the 1920's. The costumes present a variety of social classes, from impovershed simplicity to high-class elegance.
The overall scenery pieces are not the greatest designs on stage this season, but the working elevator really stands out. Its gimmick of working only when tap danced upon is ingenious.
All things have a fault, and even Tony Award-winning shows can have little problems. First off, be prepared to read-Chinese is spoken (and sung) here. For those of us that don't understand, help is built into the show. However, the projected supertitles are displayed a little too fast for the average reader. Also, some people may feel a bit irritated or annoyed with the fun poked at the Asian characters.
So whether you live in town or are just visiting, and you can only stay to see just one show, this is the show you would want to see. The musical is completely worth every penny and every laugh or smile.
Never again will you be able to enjoy a sweet girl named Millie sing out her woes, her triumphs, and her dreams on a stage before you, so see...Millie...now.
Diana Malinsky is a senior at New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. Malinsky is one of 12 New York City high school students selected to participate in the Fall 2003 semester of CSPA's Stringers Program, co-sponsored with Camp Broadway.
Prevents layout breakage if no content