Thoroughly Modern Millie
Nancy Stevens, MKFM’s Arts Correspondent went to see Thoroughly Modern Millie at Milton Keynes Theatre last week, and discovered it to be a toe-tapping twenties delight.
Musicals are in my DNA, but I had never seen Thoroughly Modern Millie before, and therefore had no expectations - but it was an utter delight from start to finish. The film was conceived as a cinematic vehicle for Julie Andrews after the success of The Sound of Music in 1967.
The scene is set with a naïve Millie Dillmount, newly arrived from Kansas, arriving in 1920’s New York set against the backdrop of prohibition. As a huge Strictly Come Dancing fan, I voted three times for Joanne Clifton (Millie) and her partner Ore Odube to win - which they did - and as befits a World Champion dancer, Joanne really sets the stage alight. I, like many others, was unaware that she could sing and act quite so brilliantly – and she is on stage throughout the show. What is even more awe-inspiring is that up to the week before Christmas, she was training for Strictly 12 hours a day. How she managed to do that, win the title, and take on this role with such aplomb is nothing short of fantastic. Her performance does not waver, and it is hard to believe that she is not a ‘West End Wendy’.
Millie has high expectations of life in the Big Apple, and is determined to dispense with love, marry for money, bob her hair and raise her hemline, as was the wont of the moderns of that era. She is robbed within hours of her arrival, and brazenly, deliberately trips up a passer-by, Jimmy Smith, who attempts to rain on her parade and tells her to return to Kansas. Sam Barrett as Jimmy is simply perfect, underplaying this role and never overshadowing Millie.
However, ambitious Millie does not heed his advice, and checks in at the somewhat insalubrious, Hotel Priscilla run by the distinctly dodgy Mrs Meeks. Unbeknown to the aspiring actresses who stay there, Mrs Meeks is running a white-slave operation, and the unsuspecting girls are shipped off to Hong Kong never to be seen again. Michelle Collins portrays Mrs Meeks, but her character, a fake Chinese matriarch, is abrasive and grating and Collins is a touch too young for this role. Lesley Joseph took on the role in 2005 and was a good ten years older.
Bun Foo and Damian Buhagiar (Andy Yau and Ching Ho), are Mrs Meers’ “henchmen” but in reality are forced to work for a pittance as they are desperate to bring their mother over from the Orient. They are brilliant performers but the overhead subtitling on the screens proved a distraction, which was a shame, and in no way a reflection on their performing ability.
Millie secures a job as a stenographer, and immediately sets her sights on her boss Mr Trevor Graydon, brilliantly played by Graham MacDuff who almost stole most of the scenes he was in. Alongside this, Jimmy, whose path has crossed with Millie, has fallen for her but she views him as “just a nice guy” with not a penny to rub together, and this is not part of her grand plan. Jimmy is, of course, a multi-millionaire and he is searching for a girl who is not a gold digger.
Millie’s plans for her boss are thwarted by the arrival of her best friend Miss Dorothy Brown, (the very talented Katherine Glover). Millie, along with Miss Dorothy, is feted across town, partying with heiress Muzzy Van Hossmere (Jennifer Fitzpatrick) who is now a hugely successful singer). I loved her bluesy voice. On seeing Dorothy for the first time, Mr Graydon falls in love. The ensuing scene when she stands him up while he is drowning his sorrows is simply hilarious. Just the right amount of camp and showbiz pizzazz.
The dance sequences are splendid, and as far as I am concerned, you can never have too much tap, Charleston and jazz hands. Hats off to choreographer Racky Plews.
From a costume perspective we have come a long way since The House of Elliot, and been spoilt with Downton, and I had high expectations of this period of dress. I wasn’t disappointed, although I am not sure that there was such a proliferation of sequins around that time, but it makes for great staging!
Finally, the scales drop from Millie’s eyes, and she realises that Jimmy is the man for her. Together they foil the dastardly Mrs Meeks who turns out to be a failed actress recognised by Muzzy. Jimmy reveals who he really is, and in true showbiz style everyone lives happily every after.
I have to reiterate how much I loved this show, and Joanne Clifton is going to be a huge star. I can see her starring in Chicago as Roxie. If you love the Roaring Twenties, a large helping of Charleston, tap, and a delightful score, you are in for a treat.
Sponsored Stories You May Like
Thames Valley Police tells MKFM there is no increase in knife crime compared to last year
The Commander for the Milton Keynes local policing area said: "Milton Keynes is a safe place to live and work."
30 patients currently being treated in Milton Keynes Hospital for coronavirus- according to latest data
The latest update tells us that 30 patients are being treated for COVID-19 at Milton Keynes Hospital, with 2 currently being treated on a ventilator bed.
The Parks Trust invites Milton Keynes residents to complete the John Muir Award in local green space
This summer, The Parks Trust has teamed up with Walton Community Council to run an exciting nature-based activity programme where families and individuals can complete the John Muir Award.
Tonight from 7pm: Local Police Commander tells MKFM how police demand has shifted considerably
Tune into MKFM from 7pm tonight to hear an exclusive interview with Commander for the Milton Keynes local policing area, Marc Tarbit.
Delays on M1 following collision near Milton Keynes
Highways England is reporting two lanes are blocked on the M1 northbound between junction 15A and junction 16.
Milton Keynes dog-lovers invited to 'Big Doggie Do' this September
Bring along your four-legged friends to Big Doggie do and enjoy charity stalls, activities and dog shows throughout this exciting weekend
Milton Keynes pub raise money for Macmillan
The Broughton Hungry Horse have raised nearly £2,000 for Macmillan since re-opening in May and hope to reach their target of £10,000 by October with lots of community activities.
People in Milton Keynes reminded how to spot respiratory illnesses in children ahead of virus season
BLMK, NHS Bedford Luton and Milton Keynes, are reminding residents what signs to look out for when spotting respiratory illness in young children and when to call for help.
Brand new eye clinic opens in Milton Keynes following hefty £3.4m investment
A brand new Optical Express clinic has opened in Central Milton Keynes following a £3.4m investment from the company.
Family run cake business from Milton Keynes wins national award
'OH MY Cakery', a family run business from Milton Keynes, has won silver in 'Best New Business'.
Kids can eat for free this summer at Morrisons cafes in Milton Keynes
This summer, Morrisons is letting kids eat free in its cafes all day, until 5th September.
New transport app launched for smartphone users in Milton Keynes
MK Council has launched a brand new smartphone app to help local people and visitors make quick, clean and green transport choices in Milton Keynes.
You May Have Missed
Cafe Rouge to close in Milton Keynes as owners of chain enter administration
Cafe Rouge in Milton Keynes will be closing permanently as the owners of the chain enter administration.
Cat is stabbed twice in Milton Keynes
Last week, a family discovered that their pet cat had been stabbed in each of her back legs.
EXCLUSIVE: McDonalds to restart breakfast service in Milton Keynes from July 8th
MKFM understands that McDonalds will be re-starting their breakfast service in all Milton Keynes stores from 8th July.
Deadly blue-green algae appears in another Milton Keynes park as warning sent to dog owners
Deadly blue-green algae has been identified in another Milton Keynes park as dog owners are warned to keep their animals out of the lake.
Milton Keynes local coronavirus case numbers do NOT include Drive-Through test centre results
A national newspaper has revealed that government coronavirus case numbers on a local authority level do not include any tests from local drive-through test centres and some home testing kits.
'Scum' spray-painted onto Milton Keynes couple's store window as well as other graffiti
A Milton Keynes couple have had the word 'Scum' spray painted onto their store window, as well as other graffiti on their store sign.
Coronavirus test centre employee's outcry over being charged to park whilst at work in Milton Keynes
Employees at the drive-in coronavirus test centre in Central Milton Keynes have to pay to park each day, it has been revealed.
The areas in Milton Keynes where the most deaths involving coronavirus have sadly happened
The Office for National Statistics have revealed new localised data on the number of deaths which have taken place involving coronavirus.