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July 16, 2013 > Theatre Review: 'Modern Millie' a thoroughly enjoyable adventure

Theatre Review: 'Modern Millie' a thoroughly enjoyable adventure

By Julie Grabowski
Photos By Debbie Otterstetter

Bobbed hair, rising hemlines, jazz, flappers, speakeasys, and dancing feet - it's 1922 New York City and small-town girl Millie Dillmount is embarking on a new, exciting life, directed by the very modern aim of marrying for money, not love. "The new woman chooses reason over romance every day of the week," Millie declares. The plan is quite simple: get a job as a stenographer and marry her wealthy boss.

But things are never as easy as they seem and along the way to establishing her thoroughly modern life, Millie meets a new best friend, a suspicous landlady who has a particular interest in orphans, a handsome boss, and a charming boy who just might be the love she was never looking for.

"Thoroughly Modern Millie" has been pleasing audiences since 1967 when the musical first appeared on film staring Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore, and Carol Channing. The story of a can-do girl and her zany adventures was nominated for seven Academy Awards and five Golden Globes. When it opened on Broadway in 2002 the show won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Actress.

Stage 1 Theatre's production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" is a fun and lively treat with plenty that pleases. Strong female vocals rule the show, courtesy of leading lady Lauren Meyer (Millie), Erin Reis (Miss Dorothy), and Anne Milbourne (Muzzy Van Hossmere). Meyer is a vibrant and energetic Millie who only gets better as the story progresses. Her voice is beautiful and powerful and provides a solid anchor for the show.

Reis has an impressive range, hitting the high notes of her numbers and character with charming poise and sweetness. Milbourne makes an impressive entrance at the end of the second act, dazzling in dress and song in "Only in New York" with a voice that can take you to lands away. As the dangerous lady who believes she is surrounded by "Pretty girls but not much in the attic," Mary Gimeno provides great comic relief as Mrs. Meers and embraces her wacky character with nary a waver.

Burton Weaver (Jimmy) and Josh Milbourne (Trevor Graydon) are complimentary male counterparts, flowing brightly and easily along with the women and holding their own in song. TK Armstrong (Bun Foo) and Leon Eng (Ching Ho) are delightful as Mrs. Meers' not-so-evil henchmen whose actions are dictated by love for their mamma.

Standout numbers include "The Speed Test," "The Nuttycracker Suite," "Forget About the Boy," and "Gimme Gimme" where Meyer especially shines.

Costume Designer Debra Milbourne has created fun and fabulous outfits of the age, sporting drop waists, bright colors, sassy fringe, and sparkles.

With high energy, a great supporting cast, toe tapping numbers, and plenty of heart, "Thoroughly Modern Millie" is a fun and pleasing summer escape.

Thoroughly Modern Millie
July 12 - 27
8 p.m. (Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.)
Newark Memorial High School Theater
39375 Cedar Blvd., Newark
(510) 791-0287
Tickets: $10 - $20

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