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Review: THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE at Goodspeed Opera House

Everything today, is indeed thoroughly modern. From the cars we drive, to the mobile phones we are glued to, to the latest fashion, American society is all about following latest trends and embracing the fads of the day. This is something that has been the case for generation to generation, even the "roaring twenties", the setting for Goodspeed Muscials' season opener THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE. Something else that hasn't changed that much in the last hundred years - the self-starting, determined spirit of young people pursuing their dreams. That too, is on display in living color on the Goodspeed stage through Millie and the quirky characters that inhabit her 1922 New York world. And, in this production, Goodspeed Musicals infuses this tale with energy, fresh vision, and most importantly, fun.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE is a madcap romp that follows plucky young Millie Dillmount (Taylor Quick), fresh off the bus from the Midwest, who arrives in New York City to pursue her dreams of finding a job and ultimately marrying a rich and eligible bachelor. Along the way Millie updates her look and makes friends with the actresses she lives with at the Priscilla Hotel, a young jack-of-all trades named Jimmy (Dan DeLuca) and a fresh faced young girl from California named Miss Dorothy (Samantha Sturm). Millie and her friends enjoy all that New York in 1922 has to offer, and along the way stumble onto a nefarious scheme that puts them all in danger.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE at its core is an audience pleaser, and the Goodspeed doesn't disappoint. Director Denis Jones has taken what was originally conceived for a large Broadway stage and made it work quite well in the Goodspeed's smaller venue. He brings out the effervescent joy in the songs and real emotion in the scenes and keeps the energy strong from beginning to end. And his choreography, which is heavy on the crowd pleasing tap numbers, is energetic, fun and exciting.

The cast is very strong, with many of the ensemble playing multiple roles and they are led by an amazing group of principals. First, Taylor Quick shines as Millie, bringing a Midwest simplicity mixed with the fire of determination to achieve her goals. In particular, her eleventh hour delivery of "Gimme Gimme" brings an emotional climax to the storyline, and nearly blows the roof off the Goodspeed Opera House. As Jimmy, Millie's on and off love interest, Dan DeLuca does an amazing job. He has a certain quality that is both trustworthy and dangerous and displays a strong voice in his featured numbers. Samantha Sturm's Miss Dorothy brings a smile to the face anytime she is on stage and has quite the soprano singing voice. And as Trevor Graydon, Millie's handsome, yet slightly simple boss, Edward Watts has some hilarious moments, especially the scene where he first meets Miss Dorothy.

There were a few standout performances worth special mention. First, when Ramona Keller, who plays chanteuse Muzzy van Hossmere, delivers her two numbers, everything stops. She delivers both songs in a brilliantly nuanced, yet emotional way. As the mysterious and malicious landlord Mrs. Meers, Tony nominee Loretta Ables Sayre has some of the funniest moments of the night. She is supported by impressive, funny, and heartfelt performances by James Seol (Ching Ho) and Christopher Shin (Bun Foo), who soon became two of my favorite characters in this production.

The sets by Set Designer Paul Tate DePoo III really highlight the era of the show with Art Deco lines and angles and creative use of chrome. The proscenium is particularly impressive. Gregory Gale's costumes are stunning, displaying all the styles you might expect (fringe, headbands, smart headwear) but in a colorful and imaginative way. Finally, the music, as orchestrated by Dan DeLange and directed by Michael O'Flaherty, as always, was excellent.

If you like to escape to the past and forget your troubles, Goodspeed's THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE is just the show for you. It is a toe-tapping, hilarious romp of a show that is "chic, unique, and quite adorable" and is something you don't want to miss. It is not only thoroughly modern, it is thoroughly good.

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THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE runs at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT through July 2. Performances are Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. (with select performances at 2:00 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. (with select performances at 6:30 p.m.) For more information, call 860-873-8668 or visit www.goodspeed.org. The Goodspeed Opera House is located at 6 Main Street, East Haddam, CT.

Photo credits: Top photo: "Forget About the Boy!" The cast of Goodspeed Musicals' Thoroughly Modern Millie now playing at The Goodspeed through July 2. Photo by Diane Sobolewski.

Mid photo: "Muquin" Christopher Shin (Bun Foo), Loretta Ables Sayre (Mrs. Meers) and James Seol (Ching Ho) in Goodspeed Musicals' Thoroughly Modern Millie now playing at The Goodspeed through July 2. Photo by Diane Sobolewski.

Bottom photo: "No use pretending, not that I could. I turned the corner when I met you" Dan DeLuca (Jimmy) and Taylor Quick (Millie) in Goodspeed Musicals' Thoroughly Modern Millie now playing at The Goodspeed through July 2. Photo by Diane Sobolewski.



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From This Author - Joseph Harrison

Joseph Harrison has been involved with the theatre in some form or fashion all his life. He holds a Journalism degree from the University of Georgia, but his true love is the theatre which he has b... (read more about this author)


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