Youth shines, despite some flaws, in this Manatee Players’ production.
By Kay Kipling
The Tony Award-winning Thoroughly Modern Millie has been making the local rounds lately, and now it turns up at the Manatee Players, where it’s given a mostly satisfying if not entirely successful production.
Millie, which centers on a small-town girl hitting New York with a determination to be “modern” and marry her rich boss, is such a light-hearted, energetic piece that even mixed results guarantee some fun. Brittany Odell fares well as Millie, singing and dancing with skill and the right bouncy flair; and she’s pretty well-matched with Gregory Wiegers as Jimmy, the boy she keeps running into by accident. We know Jimmy will win her heart despite Millie’s intention to tie the knot with stuffy Trevor Graydon (Justin Clement, amusing in one of the show’s broadest roles), but complications include her new best friend, the naïve Miss Dorothy (Andrea Petsinger), whom Trevor finds appealing, and a hotel manager running a white slavery racket (Seva Anthony) with her two Chinese cohorts.
From the opening number, there’s a nice energy emanating from the mostly young ensemble cast, and Scott Keys’ choreography (with some assists on the tap numbers from artistic director Rick Kerby) keeps thing moving in a lively, 1920s’ appropriate way. Anthony and her laundry boy accomplices (Tim Kalinowski and Frankie LaPace) get their share of laughs, and the rapid-fire Speed Test number, expanding from Millie and her boss to an office full of typing, tapping stenogs, is a production highlight.
On the down side, it’s sometimes hard to hear individual singers over the orchestra (at least from the back rows), and the scenes involving society singer Muzzy Van Hossmere just don’t ring true. Overall, though, the show belongs to the young leads and the choreography, and Millie should provide enough entertainment value for the price of a ticket.
Thoroughly Modern Millie runs through Jan. 28 at the Manatee Players Riverfront Theatre; call 748-5875 or visit www.manateeplayers.com for more info.