Apr 3, 2007

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” will hit the stage on April 13

by Rachel Neiswanger, Life! Reporter
The Roaring ’20s inspired this year’s final musical on the Liberty stage with Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

As students prepare for the opening of the show, sounds of flapping tap dancers flood the halls and rooms of the Theatre Arts Department. “The tap show consumes the time of its actors,” said Melissa Mitchell, a theatre arts major and “speed tappist” in the show.

Since the days before the opening are few, the last two weeks before the show are filled with intense rehearsals and set and costume finalizations in accordance with the direction of Linda Nell Cooper.  The cast is currently preparing to present a comical delight to its audience. Although, according to the Web site www.imdb.com, it was originally based on a 1967 movie, this Broadway production is thoroughly new. Featuring all new songs and lyrics (updated in 2000), minus a few kept from the film, the newly revamped musical won six Tony awards in 2002. This high-spirited musical romp, which has taken Broadway by storm, is performed on regional and national tours across the country.

The story begins as we are introduced to the heroine, Millie Dillmount – a bright-eyed and brassy young girl from Kansas who is headed to New York City to make it big and start a life of her own. Millie’s grand plan is to find a job as a secretary for a wealthy man and then marry him.

Filled with striking leading men, lively flappers and a dragon lady that theatre patrons will love to hate, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” will appeal to almost all audiences. Junior Ashley Wasson, who plays Millie in Liberty’s production, ad-mitted to having “a great coming together of characters,” like that with her leading man, Jimmy Smith – an apparently ne’er-do-well paper clip salesman played by junior Brad Southards.

With other characters like Miss Dorothy “Just Perfect” Brown, a genteel aspiring actress played by freshman Kayla Powell; Trevor “Swell” Graydon, her no-nonsense boss played by junior Andy Geffken, and Muzzy “Raspberries!” van Hoss-mere, a madcap heiress with a zest for the high life played by senior Sarah Koster, audience members will be on the edge of their seat trying to understand each character’s part in the show. With songs including “I’m Falling in Love with Someone” and “Forget About the Boy,” the ups and downs of love are readily apparent in this hilarious musical comedy.

The story highlights New York City in 1922 as being characterized by intrigue and jazz – a time when women were just beginning to enter the workforce and rules of social behavior were changing forever. The Priscilla girls, Millie’s friends, who live in a hotel with her, begin to realize what it means to be a woman who can decide for herself and free her choices.

“I’m so proud of the anger and excitement that comes in the girl’s song, “Forget About the Boy,’” said graduating senior Mary Hussey, who is in one of her last Liberty productions.

Some of the themes of the show include freedom and people wanting to “fit in” and be modern.
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” is truly a musical theatre gem that will charm audiences with its storyline that is full of optimism and a chance for a new life. Tickets will go on sale on April 9.

Performances will be on April 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28, and on May 3, 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lloyd Auditorium. Additional matinee showings will be held at 2 p.m. on April 14, 2:30 p.m. on April 29 and 2 p.m. on May 5.

Contact Rachel Neiswanger at raneiswanger@liberty.edu.
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