‘Millie’ is more thoroughly modern than ever
Appeal Staff Writer
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” is that rare musical that started out life as a film in 1967 with real star power – Carol Channing, Julie Andrews, James Fox, Mary Tyler Moore and John Gavin. It won some awards, with Channing winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
It languished then until a Los Angeles theater group offered a stage version of the show in 2001. It was warmly received and eventually moved to Broadway in 2002 where it ran for 903 performances.
Which brings us to this weekend and the next presentation of the romp by the Western Nevada Musical Comedy Company at the Carson Community Center. This is classic musical at its best, with a fine score and witty lyrics, directed by Stephanie Arrigotti, who, as usual, does everything short of taking tickets.
“Although this musical is inspired by the movie from the 1960s, it is so different that it is often considered a new musical – and a remarkably good one,” Arrigotti says. “What a treat it is to work with such well-written music and script.
“There’s a reason why this show swept the Tonys in 2002. It knocked me off my feet when I saw it in New York, and I jumped at the chance to bring it to Carson City. I booked the rights the day they were released. It is a marvelously entertaining evening.”
The 1920s story is that of Millie Dillmount who flees to New York City from Salina, Kan., aiming to wed a wealthy mythical boss. She adopts the short-skirted, flapper look of the times and rooms at the Priscilla Hotel for Women. She lands a job as a stenographer at the Sincere Trust Insurance Co.
She becomes involved with Jimmy Smith, a needy paper-clip salesman (no wonder he’s poor); Miss Dorothy Brown, an actress who seems broke but turns out to be an heiress, along with other stage-struck young women staying at the hotel; and Muzzy van Hossmere, a cabaret singer and also heiress who lives high in a penthouse.
Millie’s pompous boss, the reason she came to New York and whom she intends to marry, is Trevor Graydon III. But Millie likes Jimmy, who is involved with Millie’s new friend, Miss Dorothy, maybe.
The hotel proprietress, a sinister Mrs. Meers, has two Chinese villains, Ching Ho and Bun Foo, who help her kidnap any orphans checking into her hotel as part of her dealings in white slavery, so that they can bring their elderly mother to America.
Things then really get complicated with all kinds of tricks and loops, but Millie and Jimmy pitch woo and end up together, with everyone else happily accounted for.
Starring as Millie is Lauren Ashley Durant, and Jimmy is portrayed by Domenic Procaccini II, both veteran performers. Also included in the cast are Therese Curatolo, James McDuffie, Karen Chandler (when does she have time to teach at Carson High?) Dianne Hale, Tom Fisk, Paul Stufkosky, Caitlin Papp and a host of others. There’s a colorfully-clad 15-girl ensemble dancing to the orchestra led by Arrigotti, who also does the keyboard work. Gina Kaskie-Davis is the choreographer.
Book is by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan, new music and lyrics by Jeanine Tesori and Scanlan. Hat designers (you’ll see why they merit listing) are Brittany and Irene Waltz.
As Steven Sondheim once wrote in another musical, “Does anyone still wear hats?” In “Millie,” they sure do.
• Contact reporter Sam Bauman at email@example.com.
If you go
WHAT: Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company presents “Thoroughly Modern Millie”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and May 18 and 19; 2 p.m. Sunday and May 19.
COST: $18 for general admission, $16 for students and seniors, and $14 for youth 17 and under.