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The first national tour of the new red-hot Jazz Age musical comedy Thoroughly Modern Millie — directed by Michael Mayer, choreographed by Rob Ashford, and sponsored by Olay®Regenerist™ — opens Sept. 16 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium as part of Broadway Series South. This Tony® Award-winning musical stars Darcie Roberts in the title role of a small-town girl from Kansas who journeys to Manhattan in 1922, bobs her hair and shortens her skirts, and turns the Big Apple upside-down in her quest to find a rich husband. Meanwhile, Millie lives in an all-girl boardinghouse operated by white slave traders.
Roberts, who played Millie Dillmount in the first reading of Thoroughly Modern Millie at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's Festival of New Musicals, most recently toured as Lola in Barry Manilow's Copacabana. She previously served as standby for Princess Amneris in the Broadway production of Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida.
Ironically, Roberts has a great aunt — a flapper — who left Kansas City for New York City, where she joined a Ziegfeld show and won a Best Legs contest at Macy's. (Roberts notes that her great aunt eventually became homesick and returned to Kansas City.)
The touring version of Millie also stars Pamela Isaac as Muzzy Van Hossemere, Hollis Resnick as Mrs. Meers/Ms. Flannery, Matt Cavenaugh as Jimmy, Sean Allan Krill as Trevor Graydon, Diana Kaarina as Miss Dorothy Brown, Darren Lee as Bun Foo, and Andrew Pang as Ching Ho. Completing the ensemble are: Bradley Benjamin, Renée Monique Brown, Jeremy Davis, Juliana Ashley Hansen, Rachel Lafer, Joe Langworth, Mark Ledbetter, Troy Magino, Daniel May, Heather Parcells, Diane Veronica Phelan, Mia Price, Paul Schaefer, Laura Shoop, Steven Wenslawski, and Tony Yazbeck.
The show's producers are Michael Leavitt, Fox Theatricals, and Hal Luftig, with Stewart F. Lane, James L. Nederlander, Independent Presenters Network, Libby Adler Mages/Mari Glick Stuart, Dori Berinstein/Dramatic Forces, John York Noble, and Whoopi Goldberg.
Thoroughly Modern Millie, with book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan, music by Jeanine Tesori, and lyrics by Dick Scanlan, is set during the Roaring Twenties and based on the Academy Award-winning 1967 film written by Morris, directed by George Roy Hill, and starring Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Channing. (The 1967 film received seven Oscar nominations and won the Best-Music Oscar for Elmer Bernstein's Original Music Score.)
This delightful musical adaptation of Thoroughly Modern Millie features 15 songs: two from the 1967 motion picture, four 1920s standards, and nine nifty new songs written by composer Jeanine Tesori and lyricist Dick Scanlan. The show made its Broadway debut in early 2002 and won six Tony® Awards (including best musical honors) and five Drama Desk Awards (including the award for best musical).
The original Broadway production of Mille received rave reviews. "Thoroughly Modern Millie is the happiest show in town — a warm and adorable musical comedy brimming with charming songs, snappy dances, talented performers, and energy to spare," wrote Martin Denton for NYTheatre.com. "I honestly can't remember the last time an original Broadway musical was created with so much sincerity and so much heart: Millie is a show that leaves you utterly glowing with good feeling. It's the musical we've been waiting for all season. I can't wait to see it again."
Elysa Gardner of USA Today agreed, "Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan's dialogue is at once clever and gleefully corny; same goes for Scanlan's lyrics for 11 new songs that supplement 1920s standards and tunes from the film. This material is well served by an extravagantly talented cast. Other amusing, endearing touches abound in David Gallo's set design, Martin Pakledinaz's gloriously gaudy costumes and Rob Ashford's exhilarating choreography. This Millie is a thoroughly delightful experience."
Linda Winer of Newsday called Thoroughly Modern Millie "a thoroughly old-fashioned new musical comedy" and "a frisky, fresh-faced throwback that dares to enjoy the hokey conventions while indulging a lovely little mad streak all its own." She added, "There is real news. Millie will be remembered as the one that brought Broadway's favorite star-is-born clichés to life again. Jeanine Tesori is the most promising of new-musical composers. Michael Mayer's production — buoyed by Rob Ashford's inventive choreography — seems to be having loopy fun with the foolishness. At its best, the spirit is catching. David Gallo's sets find a few new ways to love the Manhattan skyline, and Martin Pakledianz' costumes avoid the usual flapper cartoons. Any show that rhymes 'adorable' with 'Sodom and Gomorrah-ble' knows the territory."
In Time Out New York, Jason Zinoman raved, "It's as rare as it is unmistakable — that ineffable moment when things just click. You can feel this very clearly during a number that turns an office of stenographers into a freeway of racing tappers threatening to run over the gangly-legged Millie. Soon, the hummable girl-power anthem 'Forget About the Boy,' the Willy Wonka sets and Millie's charm conspire to remind you why people pay for Broadway shows. It is because you can't see this kind of whirling, transporting pop entertainment anywhere else."
Millie is "a musical that celebrates Jazz and the city's seductions," claimed Barbara Phillips of The Wall Street Journal. "... This refreshingly old-fashioned musical comedy is a rarity this season on Broadway. It's a show that actually improves on its source material, 1967's movie musical.... Add Rob Ashford's exuberant choreography, David Gallo's art-deco skyscraper set, Donald Holder's bright, candy-colored lighting and Martin Pakledinaz's brash costumes, and you have a lively, giddy and just plain swell valentine to New York"
Broadway Series South presents Thoroughly Modern Millie Tuesday-Friday, Sept. 16-19, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 20, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 21, at 2 and 7 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $16-$66. 919/834-4000 (Ticketmaster) or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/865616. Group Sales: 919/231-4575 or http://www.priorityseating.net/. Broadway Series South: http://www.broadwayseriessouth.com/2003-2004/broadway.html#millie. Broadway: http://www.modernmillie.com/home.htm [inactive 1/04]. First National Tour: http://www.modernmillietour.com/. 1967 Movie: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0062362/.