Thursday, May 2, 2013

REVIEW: Skyview's "Thoroughly Modern Millie" Thoroughly Enjoyable

Skyview High School presents the classic musical tale of a modern (1922) girl THIS WEEKEND ONLY.

"Thoroughly Modern Millie" is a musical with music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Dick Scanlan, and a book by Richard Morris and Scanlan. Based on the 1967 film of the same name, (which, by the way, starred Julie Andrews, Carol Channing and Mary Tyler Moore). "Thoroughly Modern Millie" tells the story of a small-town girl, Millie Dillmount, who comes to New York City to marry for money instead of love – a thoroughly modern aim in 1922, when women were just entering the workforce.

Millie soon begins to take delight in the flapper lifestyle, but problems arise when she checks into a hotel owned by the leader of a white slavery ring in China. Like the film on which it is based, it interpolates new tunes with some previously written songs. [Source: Wikipedia] 

Thoroughly Great Overall

What a great show! I loved the music first and foremost; the Gershwin-esq ragtime was simple full of  toe-tapping energy. The 24 piece orchestra, under the direction of Ashley Alexander, was tight and, for the most part, did not overpower the stage performances. Especially good were the percussionists and the string section was simply marvelous.

The story is fun and funny, with a few twists that remind one of the Shakespeare comedies (and it ends like one). The choreography, by Genay Tucker, was wonderful. Very creative and nicely executed. Especially good was the tap sequence by Shannon Jung. Costumes were nice and colorful, but not always accurate.

The sets, by Ted Fleming, were changed with precision and speed as if the crew was brought in from Les Schwab. The primary set consisted of a lit cyc fronted with black cutouts of New York high rises with faux painted accordion flats used in front of the backdrop--though not fancy, they worked well. The stenographers desks were exceptionally nice and must have cost a pretty penny.

All the cast (a very large one) performed well (though the lead men were a tad stiff), Kennedy Marvin as Millie turned in a truly top-notch performance. Her voice was divine and her acting superb. Almost a 'triple threat,' though she was not showcased as a dancer. Sanni Small also sang exceptionally well. The show was wonderfully directed by drama instructor Philip Denton. The pace and detail were perfect.

There are many fun and funny elements to the show (like the captioning for the Chinese which is quite cute) and who couldn't like Maya Turner's edgy but funny performance as the iconic Mrs. Meers? The two Chinese brothers, played by Nathan Harris and Andrew Braddock where a hoot. Again, the songs were fantastic, too many great ones to really pick favorites, but if I had to I might put Muqin (mother) or Speed Test (reminiscent of Gilbert and Sullivan's Modern Major General) at the top.

Though Rough at Times

The lighting was inadequate at DSL and DSR where the candlepower dropped off considerably. No followspot was used and, being a musical, would have been totally acceptable and helped to bring soloists out of the crowd and better register the performances. [See my article on stage lighting here.]

There were some (though few) mic problems; not on or up, and some rough breath noises (due to being too close to the lips). Many of the mics were honkin' big (Britney Spears anyone?) and that was a distraction that just didn't look good.

"Thoroughly Modern Millie" plays 7 p.m. May 3 and 4 ONLY* at the Skyview High School auditorium, 1300 NW 139th St. Tickets are steal at $5, $4 for students are available at the door. 360-313-4200.

*It is a shame that such a great show has such a limited run, but I was told that the auditorium is a big money maker for the district and so booking it for an actual student event (like a theatrical run by the drama department) is not a priority. WHAT!? Income over education? A real shame considering all the expense and time put into staging a musical. With quality like this it should be showcased!

Review by Gregory E. Zschomler


  1. Dinner with the Director is tonight (May 3) at 5:30 in the lobby outside of Skyview's auditorium!

    It's a great way to get some good food, hear about the show's creation process, and support local high school theater!

    Tickets are $25!

  2. OH! And the dinner ticket also covers the show cost! It's a very wise investment! =D