Powerful performances and extensive tap numbers. Duets of love and duets of anger. Mandarin Chinese solos and white slavery? These were only a few aspects of Agnes Irwin's musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie, put on this past weekend by director Bill Esher.
With music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Dick Scanlan, and a book by Richard Morris and Scanlan, this musical, based on a 1967 movie with the same name, opened on Broadway in 2002 and subsequently won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Set in the 1920's, it follows the story of Kansas girl Millie Dillmount (Ginna Le Vine) as she moves to the big city to marry into wealth, but cannot avoid literally bumping into true love in the form of Jimmy Smith (Connor Ambrose). Simultaneously, she unexpectedly gets caught up in a ring of "white slavery" led by sketchy hotel owner, Mrs. Meers (Katie Hegarty) along with her unwilling minions, Ching Ho (Kyle Kocher Sperger) and Bun Foo (Kristen Nehls). Both of these comedic lackees impressively delivered all lines and songs in Mandarin Chinese.
Ginna Le Vine, as protagonist Millie, exhibited her honed vocal skills and wide acting range as, over the course of two hours, she displayed every emotion in the book as well as a huge array of wardrobe changes. Her counterpart, Connor Ambrose, balanced her strong character with remarkable slickness and some impressively high notes. Miss Dorothy (Grace McCarty), the best friend of Millie, matched Millie in energy and vocal talent and gave a very solid performance.
The villainess, Katie Hegarty, put forth a huge effort in playing the extravagant Mrs. Meers, with her false accent and ridiculous plots. Her minion, Ching Ho (Kyle Kocher Sperger), brought forth laughs from every audience member as he tried to express his comedic infatuation with Miss Dorothy, with no knowledge of the English language.
Sound was never an issue in this musical, and every character was audible over the orchestra. Although the lead character was usually well lit, dark spots on the stage became noticeable throughout the play and could become distracting at times. Even with these minor issues, this entertaining musical was represented by a strong cast and was a thoroughly successful performance.