BWW Review: THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE Another Phenomenal Production by The Barn Players
The high quality of productions such as THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, which opened on Friday September 18, is why The Barn Players won the 2014 Broadway World Regional Award for Outstanding Theater of the Year in the Kansas City Region. Kip Simmons directs the musical based on the 1967 film of the same name, starring Julie Andrews. Richard Morris wrote the original story and screenplay for Universal Pictures. CHRYSANTHEMUM, which opened in London in 1956, was the basis for the story and screenplay.
THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE opened on Broadway in 2002, winning six 2002 Tony Awards including Best Musical. With book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan, music by Jeanine Tesori, and lyrics by Dick Scanlan the musical received 12 Drama Desk Award nominations, winning five including Outstanding Musical.
Millie Dillmount moves from Kansas to New York City in hopes of making it big as an actor. Her backup plan is to enter the workforce and to marry her boss, whoever he is. On the suggestion of a stranger who she had intentionally tripped, she moves into a hotel, which caters to young would-be actors, who are down on their luck. Little does she know it is a front for a white slavery ring run by the innkeeper Mrs. Meers?
Songs such as "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "What Do I Need with Love?," and "Long as I'm Here with You" tell her story and those of the other characters in an often-humorous pastiche. The Barn Players production includes new music by Tesori and new lyrics by Scanlan.
Choreographer JC Dresslaer and Tap Choreographer Valerie Martin provide some of the most intricate dance routines seen on Kansas City stages. The movements of the cast were so natural and effortless that they were amazing to watch. The marvelous costuming by Paula Rebottaro, lighting by Philip Leonard, and musical direction of Kevin Bogan and the 15-piece orchestra delivers a Broadway quality show.
Cara Hampton, making her powerful debut at The Barn Players, is fabulous in the title role of Millie Dillmount. Her vocals are exquisite, her dancing beautiful, and her body language superb. Each year at the end of the theatrical season, Kansas City loses performers to New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Hampton presents the qualities that could carry her to the top of the A-list of Kansas City performers.
Katie Bartow makes her second appearance at the Barn in a fantastic portrayal of Miss Dorothy Brown. When she joins Trevor Graydon, played by Matt Richardson, in "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life/Falling I Love with Someone" their voices blend in perfect harmony. Bringing the house down with roars of laughter is the highly talented Trevor French as Mrs. Meers. Blane Brungardt is wonderful performance as Jimmy Smith, the New Yorker tripped by Millie who tries to help her.
THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE may catapult The Barn Players to another Broadway World Regional Award win, not only for the theater but also for everyone involved in the show. Do not miss your chance to see THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE playing at The Barn Players through October 4. Purchase tickets by visiting The Barn Players website. Photo courtesy of The Barn Players.