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Holt Student Reviews Clayton High School's 'Thoroughly Modern Millie'

As part of the Cappies program, high school students review other high schools' theater productions.

(The following Cappies review was written by by Grace Malinee of Holt High School.)

I’m Changing—and how!

Tap dancing, kid-napping, speakeasies, and soy sauce. New York City was never the same after it met Millie Dillmount.

Thoroughly Modern Millie, a musical written by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan and with music by Jeanine Tesori, premiered on Broadway in 2002. The story follows Millie Dillmount, an independent girl from Salina, Kansas, who moves to the Big Apple in search of fame, fortune, and a single, rich man to marry.

In the year 1922, with the flapper culture at a high, Millie is determined to be thoroughly modern and follow the trend of  other young girls of the day, to get a job as a typist and marry her boss, whether she loves him or not. However, after a night in jail, a dance on a window ledge, and an attempted kidnapping, Millie discovers that falling in love perhaps is not such an old-fashioned notion after all.

While Millie fell in love with Jimmy, the audience seated in Clayton High School’s auditorium fell in love with Millie and all the other characters on stage.

Millie Dillmount was played by Emily Gudmestad. Perhaps the most high-energy actress on stage, Gudmestad filled the high heeled shoes of Millie well. Never faltering in energy or character, Gudmestad never failed to fit the demands of the show. Particularly shining in her solo in “Gimme Gimme”, Gudmestad’s vocals were powerful and sincere. Acting alongside Gudmestad was Ben Diamond as Millie’s street-wise, smooth-talking love interest, Jimmy Smith. Gudmestad and Diamond’s chemistry was apparent and the song “I Turned the Corner” highlighted both of the actor’s superb vocals and melded them into a lovely duet.

The supporting cast was fraught with talent as well. A featured actress with fantastic tap-dancing skills and great elbows to boot was Carly Beard as Miss Flannery. Another supporting actor who was perhaps one of the most animated performers on stage, with wonderful facial expressions and high-energy demeanor was James Kerr as Trevor Graydon. Acting together as a wonderful pair, who drew many laughs from the audience (though they barely spoke any lines in English) were Robbie Love and Sam Stern as Bun Foo and Ching Ho.

The show shined technically as well. The nuances in lighting fit the mood perfectly and helped create the atmosphere of the show. As long as the actors took care to speak loudly enough and enunciate, the sound system ensured they were heard. The sets were realistic and fit the needs of the show well and the set crew worked with impressive speed in changing the cleverly designed scenery attuned for quick scene changes. The costumes were impeccable, time-period and character appropriate, and amazingly diverse, adding a pleasing mix of color and style to the stage.

Overall the show was a thoroughly entertaining hit. While some of the high-energy performers out-shown some of the more docile actors on stage, and the ensemble was hard to hear during group numbers; this did little to dampen the mood of the show. The whole cast handled songs, intricate choreography, and the demands of the show with estimable grace.

Clayton High School put on a brilliant rendition of Thoroughly Modern Millie and truly made the Roaring Twenties come to life on stage. The show had the audience roaring with laughter and the energy, talent, and vivacity of the show kept roaring along from opening number to curtain call. A round of applause to Clayton for a show well done.

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