Monday, 7 December 2015

Review: Thoroughly Modern Millie

by Ellen Latham

For the past three years I have gone to see the musical, and for the past three years I have been surprised at how good they have been. After the outstanding Kiss Me Kate performance last year, I was hesitant to see this years, worrying it would not live up to my expectations that the previous year had put in place. But of course, I needn't have worried. This years performance of Thoroughly Modern Millie was, and I imagine everyone else who saw it will agree, incredible. Every aspect had been though about and time was spent perfecting every last detail, from the make up, to the lighting.

From the moment the curtain went up, to the moment it went back down at the end, the audience was enthralled in the performance. Despite there being a problem with microphones in the very first song, the lead, Caitlin Hoddle, accompanied by the enthusiastic, energising and overflowing cast opened our hearts to her character and our minds to New York in the 1920’s.
For those who did not get to see the show, it follows the story of a young woman, Millie, who moves to New York in the hope of finding a husband, not from love, but instead as a business deal. The set designers did a fantastic job in conveying the era and showing the audience New York during the 1920’s, whether it was the extravagant home of  Muzzy Van Hossmere, or a secret door to get into a speakeasy, the set added to the show. One especially memorable moment was Rob Merriam, playing the leading male role of Jimmy, as he edges his way along a ledge to the balcony outside Millie’s office. The set was simple, a rectangular platform with a large window frame attached at its back, however it's effect was incredible, as the whole audience understood what Rob’s character was doing, and where the scene was set.

The portrayal of lead roles, Millie and and Jimmy was commendable. Rob Merriam and Caitlin Hoddle conveyed their characters to perfection the whole way through the show, endearing us to them and their story. Their portrayal was only broken up by the even more commendable dancing and singing numbers, which were so advanced and impressive, the audience forgot that this was only a school production. An especially memorable performance for me was Forget about the boys, performed by lead Caitlin Hoddle and her characters band of tap dancing, headstrong co-workers, straight after the interval. Here, the cast broke out their tap shoes and typewriters to deliver a scene that left me with a song stuck in my head and an urge to start tap lessons, the latter I later decided was a bad idea; if only we could break out into musical numbers in real life.

Perhaps the only weak part of the performance was that it had to end, and that eventually we all had to leave our seats, leave New York and leave the characters it had only taken an evening to fall in love with. However, the music, the performance, and the story will stay in our heads for a while, so much so, I'm sure next year I will once again be wondering if the musical will live up to the bar that Thoroughly Modern Millie has set.

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