View Full Version : "Thoroughly Modern Millie" playing at Civic Center

10-07-2004, 11:47 AM
If you guys like broadway musicals, this one should be a good one. If you need tickets call the number given below. For more information visit Celebrity Attractions website at

"Review: 'Millie' cast brings energy to patchwork musical

When: October 5 - 10, 2004, Times still left as of this posting: Fri, Sat, and Sun eve; Sat and Sun Matinee.

Prices: Tues, Wed, & Sun Eve $48, $43, $33, $16
Thur, Sat & Sun Mat $52, $47, $37, $21
Fri & Sat Eve $56, $51, $41, $26

Where: Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker.

Information: Celebrity Attractions: (800) 869-1451.

The original cast album of the 2002 musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie" boldly proclaims on its insert sleeve that it is "the new Broadway musical comedy." New on Broadway? Yes. New songs? A few. New property? Hardly. "Thoroughly Modern Millie"

Based on the 1967 film of the same name, this stage adaptation is another in a long list of film musicals that have been transferred to the stage in recent years. But what works in one medium rarely succeeds in the other, something the creative team behind "Thoroughly Modern Millie" never quite came to grips with.

Presented locally by the Tulsa-based Celebrity Attractions, "Thoroughly Modern Millie" opened Tuesday for an eight-performance run at the Civic Center Music Hall.

In the era when Hollywood raided Broadway for material, film directors took great pride in "opening up" stage musicals for the screen. Only film could give us the scenic Austrian vistas that made "The Sound of Music" so enjoyable.

But reversing the process is far more difficult. The stage versions of "Singin' in the Rain" and "Meet Me in St. Louis" pale alongside their big screen counterparts. "Millie" does spring to life, although only occasionally.

That's because it's a patchwork affair that attempts to integrate music by Tchaikovsky, Victor Herbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan together with a new score by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan.

Except for "Not for the Life of Me" and "Gimme Gimme," Tesori's score rarely takes flight, although Scanlan's lyrics are frequently clever: "Granny dear, mother mine/Old and gray at twenty-nine/Calloused hands, broken heart/Dreams that die before you start."

So, what does this national touring production of "Millie" have going for it? Abundant energy, fast pacing and a cast of performers who never allow the show's shortcomings to overwhelm them.

"Millie" is the tale of a young Kansas girl who's determined to conquer New York. She doesn't get off to a very promising start though. "Ten minutes in this town and I have my New York horror story," she complains after being robbed.

Millie later learns that the woman who runs the rooming house is secretly involved in a white slavery racket. Mrs. Meers preys upon young orphans who presumably wouldn't be missed should they suddenly disappear.

"Millie" has other twists and turns that contribute to this show's convoluted plot, but Michael Mayer's swift staging prevents the story from bogging down too much.

The cast, save one, is excellent. John Ganun is a solid Trevor Graydon, the stoic boss Millie sets out to marry. Bryan McElroy brings a youthful exuberance to the role of Jimmy Smith, a playboy who falls for Millie.

Stephanie Pope is Muzzy Van Hossmere (Carol Channing's role in the movie), a wealthy widow whose joy for life rivals that of Mame Dennis. Muzzy's two big numbers are powerfully sung but seem extraneous rather than necessary.

And Mrs. Meers' partners in crime (Daniel May and Emir Yonzon), are two Asian brothers who have one of the show's cleverest bits in a musical number that alternates between English and Chinese.

Sadly, Pamela Hamill's Mrs. Meers seems far too forced, which lessens the impact of her character's humor. And her mock Chinese accent is delivered in an often unintelligible falsetto.

Anne Warren makes a winsome Miss Dorothy, another naive young girl whose romantic designs don't exactly pan out as she had planned. Warren's pure soprano makes a terrific impression though, especially in the second act quartet.

Finally, there's the Millie of Darcie Roberts, a performer whose sterling acting skills and rangy belt combine to create a character of enormous charm, wit and presence.

Roberts is one of those rare natural talents who brings such exuberance to the role of Millie that you can't help but root for her. Numbers such as "Forget About the Boy" and "Gimme Gimme" not only show off Roberts' terrific belt but steadily build into genuine showstoppers.

This production has one other major asset and that's music director Eric Stern. This Broadway veteran is meticulous in his approach to any score -- I've enjoyed his work in "Carousel" and "Candide" among others -- and that translates into a high degree of musicality rarely found in touring productions.

If "Thoroughly Modern Millie" is never likely to become a classic stage musical, this production gets high marks for the cast's enthusiasm and fine vocal skills. Add in Stern's expert music direction, and "Millie" sparkles more often that you'd think possible. "