Book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan
New Music by Jeanine Tesori
New Lyrics by Dick Scanlan
Directed by William Ostertek
Music Direction by Ben Johnson
Choreographed by Tammy Mader
At Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre
Slick dances and loads of humor fuel Drury Lane Oakbrook’s Millie
Continuing the expert production standards of the past few years at Drury Lane Oakbrook, director William Ostetek has found a refreshing twist to his excellent production of the 2002 winner of six Tony’s, Thoroughly Modern Millie. The magic of this production lies in his emphasis on smart, swift and smooth 20’s flavored dances (deftly choreographed by Tammy Mader) and casting of several new faces as leads to give the show a fresh sparkle and loads of pizzazz.
Add the art deco Manhattan skyline set by Kevin Depinet on Jesse Klug’s vivid lighting with Tatjana Radisic’s colorful 20’s custom’s complete with feathered hats and you have the ingredients for a worthy musical comedy.
Thoroughly Modern Millie boasts a fine score by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan that echoes the sounds of the 1920’s Jazz Era. Based on the 1967 Oscar-winning film of the same name, Millie takes audiences back to the height of the Jazz Age, when “moderns,” including a flapper named Millie Dillmount (Holly Ann Butler completely charming and lovable with terrific pipes), were bobbing their hair, raising their hemlines, entering the workforce and rewriting the rules of love. Millie takes NYC with her razzmatazzing in a bold bright old-time Broadway show that so much fun that we simply lay back and soak up all the cute fluff.
The recognizably “Thoroughly Modern Millie” song by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen is nicely presented and used to underscore and enhance the new songs by Tesori and Scanlan. I love the 20’s Jazzy flavor to Millie. Song like the terrific opening number “Not for the Life of Me” to the clever zany “Speed Test” number (nicely re-invented by Tammy Mader) to “Jimmy.” The 19 song score features many show stopping dance numbers that feature outstanding tap, jazz and clever satirical dances that give depth to the story as well as offering breathtaking entertainment. Millie is an amazing dance show that features refreshing takes on 1920’s dance styles including the Charleston.
Holly Ann Butler played Millie with gusto and her big voice lands her songs with loads of heart. Her “Jimmy” and “Gimme, Gimme” songs light the torch with stirring truthfulness. Her “Forget the Boys” number with the typing girls demonstrate Butler as a triple threat performer. Mark Fisher sang and acted nicely as the likable Jimmy Smith love interest for Millie. Melody Betts channels Dorothy Danderage with “Only in New York.” Sharon Sachs is funny as Miss Flannery the chief typist. Paula Scrofano uses her comic chops as the oriental imitator, white slaver Mrs.Meers. Scrofano takes over her scenes deftly and her “Muquin” song with Paul Martinez and Richard Manera stops the show.
Thoroughly Modern Millie is a cute, sweet Broadway musical that sings nicely, dances superbly containing loads of laughs. One of the highlights of this production is the over-the-top comic work of Randall Dodge as the stuffy Trevor Graydon. This guys knows how to milk a laugh. His duet with Dara Cameron, as Miss. Dorothy Brown, was a hoot as it played out as an ode to the old Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald MGM film operettas.
There is so much to enjoy in this spirited and spunky production that thoroughly make you forget your troubles for 2 and a half hours as it gets you both laughing and toe-tapping. We all need a little escape once in a while. This Millie is fun! For a ticket price ranging from $29 to $38, you’ll not find an Equity full-scale Broadway musical anywhere for such a low price.
At Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, IL, call 630-530-0111, www.drurylaneoakbrook.com, tickets $29- $33 – $38, Wednesdays at 1 pm, Thursdays at 1 & 8 pm, Fridays at 8:30 pm, Saturdays at 5 & 8:30 pm, Sundays at 2 & 6 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission.