★★★★★ - Irresistible
Filled with frisky flappers, dashing leading men and a dragon lady of a villainess that audiences will love to hate, "Thoroughly Modern Millie" is a flawlessly constructed evening of madcap merriment and explosive dance numbers!
In this musical spoof of the roaring '20s, Thoroughly Modern Millie tells the story of young Millie Dillmount from Kansas, who comes to New York in search of a new life for herself. Millie’s plan is simple: find a job as a secretary for an eligible bachelor and then marry him. It doesn’t take long, however, for Millie’s “thoroughly modern” plan to go awry. Her conniving landlady (Mrs. Meers) plots to kidnap Millie’s best friend (“Miss” Dorothy Brown) and sell her into slavery in Hong Kong, her wealthy boss (Mr. Trevor Graydon) seems entirely uninterested in her flirtations, and worst of all, the man with whom she falls head over heels in love (Jimmy Smith) doesn’t have a penny to his name. This bright, funny, and charming musical comedy was the winner of the 2002 Tony Award for Best Musical.
Director Leslie Fotheringham has done a masterful job at casting and directing this multi-talented ensemble. In their first roles with Signature, Jessica Washer brings the natural sweetness and effortless charm that is essential to the leading lady, Millie Dillmount; Sydney Story effectively portrays the delicately feminine “Miss” Dorothy Brown from California. Anita Bean has a grand old time playing the campy villainess, Mrs. Meers; Jackson Langford is charming as the wisecracking young paper-clip salesman, Jimmy Smith; Aron Shanley is ideal as the plastic matinee idol, Mr. Trevor Graydon; and Linda Woodson is “mahvelous” as fabulously wealthy playgirl, songstress (and matchmaker), Muzzy Van Hossmere.
Supporting actors, Paul Villaluz (Ching Ho) and Trixia Dela Rosa (Bun Foo) handle the most cartoonish material with ease, in scenes that use the inspired gimmick of employing surtitles for their Chinese dialogue. (“Surtitles”, also known as supertitles, are translated or transcribed lyrics/dialogue projected above a stage or displayed on a screen, commonly used in opera.)
The creative and production teams have outdone themselves. Choreographer, Ashley Oblad, is to be commended for her playfully imaginative dance routines – particularly in “The Speed Test” (with the “steno pool” and their rolling desks), and the hilarious operetta-style love ballet/duet between Trevor Graydon and Miss Dorothy (“Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life/I’m Falling in Love with Someone”). Steve Huntsman’s sets and Elizabeth Kline’s lighting seamlessly transported the audience through multiple roaring '20s venues.