Sunday, June 24, 2012

QUICK TAKE REVIEW Thoroughly Marvelous MILLIE By Beverly Creasey

Turtle Lane Playhouse triumphed last season with their stunning DROWSY CHAPERONE. Now they’re reuniting the DROWSY leads for a high energy THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE (playing through July 1st). This MILLIE grabs your attention from the get-go. The overture sets the bar for what’s to come. First rate musicianship right down to the crisp, sassy brass (under the music direction of Chris Holownia) made me sit up and take notice.

Director Kristin Hughes’ remarkable production sparkles with stellar performances, from Tim McShea’s sardonic hero to Jackie Theoharis’ spunky Millie to Gillian Gordon’s hilarious turn as the ingénue ever so “delighted to be on the way down.” But the real star of the show is Annita Brockney’s choreography.

The roaring twenties have never looked so glamorous. Brockney’s hip, Charleston inspired dances wow, keep up the energy of the story and get laughs galore. Wait ‘til you see her drinking choreography, her wild infatuation moves, even some wonderful, tongue in cheek ledge choreography. Kudos, too, to assistant choreographer Carly Jurman. Her work on the “Thoroughly Modern Millie” number starts the show with a bang.

The plot is unbelievably silly. In between the colliding love stories, an evil “laundry cartist” (Andrea Giangreco) blackmails two hapless Chinese laundry workers (who miss their mother) into helping her kidnap victims for the white slave trade. (Note: Morris and Scanlan’s book was written for comic effect way before we all became aware of actual human trafficking. Leave your political correctness at the door. This is a spoof.)

Did I mention there’s a spectacular Gilbert & Sullivan parody (executed to perfection by Kyle W. Carlson)? Not to mention two laundrymen who speak and sing in Chinese. It’s so silly that it’s divine. Jason Dick and David Gerrie sound mighty authentic (although I don’t speak Chinese so how would I know?). Olivia Buckley has a nifty cameo as an uptight office manager and Abigail Clarke adds class to the role of the queen of café society.

The only way you’ll have more fun is if you put on your flapper duds and dance the black bottom in the aisles. And you could, come to think of it, during intermission. Just not during the show.