USER (25Oct05): Thoroughly Modern Millie is definitely the best musical you will see this year. on a scale of 1-10, I give Millie an 11!!! Thoroughly enjoyable for everyone!!!!!!
USER (06Apr05): Thoroughly Modern Millie
Birmingham Hippodrome, Tuesday 5 April 2005, runs until 16 April.
The Broadway and West End hit musical arrived in town last night to great applause and a standing ovation! Yes, it’s definitely a hit.
The 1960s Julie Andrews film is now a lavish and sparkling stage musical with great sets, colourful costumes and eye catching dance numbers. And, with songs by Jeanine Tesori, Dick Scanlan, Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn, Victor Herbert, Walter Donaldson etc it has all the hallmarks of a winning production. A cast of 25 and a good-sized orchestra of 10 under the direction of Chris Hatt bring to life the original orchestrations by legendary composer/arranger the late Ralph Burns.
Set in the roaring twenties’ speakeasy era, the most memorable song is the foot tapping title number, performed confidently by Donna Steele who repeats her West End starring role of “Millie”. Her experience shined through from the opening number and she handled all the 20s style dances and comedy in her stride. She is physically the perfect “Millie” with long legs, an expressive face and carries the whole thing off beautifully.
Lesley Joseph creates a wonderfully entertaining and at times “panto style villainess” in Mrs Meers, the supposedly Chinese owner of somewhat seedy looking hotel whose Chinese-English has the audience in stitches. Of course, the sinister side of all this is that she is actually doping and kidnapping orphans to sell to the sex trade of Asia. One of the comical showstoppers is when she and two Chinese boys sing “Mammy” with subtitles shown on a screen! You really must see it.
Grace Kennedy in the role of Muzzy Van Hossmere has 2 big numbers the best being in Act One “Only in New York” and demonstrated why she is one of the best vocalists around. Personally, I’d like to have seen her more as she has real stage charisma.
Richard Reynard as Millie’s friend Jimmy Smith (secretly a wealthy industrialist) has lots of traditional song and dance numbers winning over both the audience and Millie while Andrew Kennedy, Millie’s office boss, sings his heart out in a Gilbert and Sullivan style which amused the audience a lot.
Robyn North was excellent as Dorothy Brown (secretly the sister of Jimmy) and Nicola Blackman was larger than life as the wasp nest’s hair styled office supervisor Miss Flannery.
In spite of a technical hitch part way through Act One which required a short pause in the show, the restart was effective and well handled and even got an extra round of applause from the already won-over audience. After Birmingham the tour continues until November and will no doubt delight audiences at all venues. A great evening out.