BWW Reviews: THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE is Thoroughly Entertaining, at Broadway Rose
Who can resist a good tap number? Certainly not me! If you feel the same, then get yourself out to Tigard to see THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE at Broadway Rose Theatre. The show a big, flashy Broadway musical with all of the bells and whistles.
THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE is a 2002 musical (music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Dick Scanlan) that takes place in 1922. It is based on a 1967 play (starring Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore, and Carol Channing), which itself was based on a 1956 British musical. Phew! It won six Tony Awards and was the vehicle that launched Sutton Foster into Broadway goddessdom.
Don't worry -- the show's plot is not nearly as complex as its lineage. Millie Dillmount is a young woman who arrives in New York determined to be "modern," which to her means "raise your skirts and bob your hair," and marry rich. She checks into the Hotel Priscilla, a place for young aspiring actresses, and pursues her dream of convincing one of the city's most eligible (read: richest) bachelors to marry her. She sets her head (though not her heart) on Trevor Graydon III, impresses him with her stenography skills, and lands a job at his company, which is the first step in her scheme. Of course, things don't go exactly as Millie planned, and there is a strange subplot involving Mrs. Meers, the proprietor of the Hotel Priscilla, who is involved in a white slavery ring in Hong Kong...but it's really not a spoiler to say that everything works out as it should.
The cast and crew at Broadway Rose are incredible, and I'm continually amazed at the quality of the musical theatre productions they put on. Claire Avakian is excellent as Millie. She can sing, she can dance, and she's funny. (She's also moving to New York this fall -- good luck, Claire!) Avakian is surrounded by a cast well-equipped to take on the show's quirky characters, especially Joe Theissen, who is delightful as Trevor Graydon III; Katie Perry as Dorothy, Millie's beautiful-voiced BFF; Emily Sahler as the conniving dragon lady Mrs. Meers; and Lisamarie Harrison, whose comic timing is impeccable in the role of Miss Flannery.
The one actor I wanted to see more from was Joel Walker, who plays Jimmy Smith, the first person who Millie meets in New York. He both shows her the city's seedy underbelly by taking her to a speakeasy and introduces her to how the other half live by taking her to a high-society party. He has a great voice and can tell a joke, but his performance lacks the oomph that is surely required to attract the eye of a thoroughly modern woman.
And of course there is the dancing. Doesn't tap just make you happy? If I had one complaint about the dancing, it's that there wasn't enough. Surely they could have found room for one more tap number! (I'm mostly just kidding. There was a lot of dancing, and it was great.)
THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE will not challenge or enlighten you. You will not leave with a greater understanding of life or love or the universe. (If there's any moral at all, it might be that love is better than money, but if you have the chance, take the money too.) It will entertain you, and you will leave whistling a tune and wondering if it's too late to take up tap dancing. (It's not!) And isn't that exactly what a big, flashy Broadway musical is supposed to do? I think so, especially this summer, when your brain has already been melted by the heat.
THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE runs through July 26 at Broadway Rose Theatre. Get your tickets at www.broadwayrose.org. Pro tip: the performance takes place at the Deb Fennell Auditorium at Tigard High School, NOT the Broadway Rose New Stage on Grant Street, so make sure to program your GPS appropriately.