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A too-obedient 'Modern Millie' has technical issues and uninspiring choreography that diverts attention from a capable, pleasant lead


None April 8th, 2010

Milliephoto
Thoroughly Modern Millie
8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Through May 2
Pollard Theatre
120 W. Harrison, Guthrie
www.thepollard.org
282-2800
$25, $22 seniors/military, $15 students

Guthrie's Pollard Theatre presents a tepid adaptation of the Prohibition- set "Thoroughly Modern Millie," which won the 2002 Tony for Best Musical. The production could use more subversiveness.

Millie Dillmount of Salina, Kan., moves to New York City to seek her fortune "” that is, she wants to marry a rich husband. She checks into a hotel for actresses that is really a front for "white slave" kidnappers, and away we go.

You can't help but like Alex A. Hall as Millie. Hall, who has a pleasant, if not overwhelming singing voice, plays her as a gal with gumption and tenacity. When Millie gets knocked down, both literally and figuratively, she jumps right back up and forges onward.

The terrific Cory King gives the production much-needed energy whenever she is onstage as Miss Meers, a villainess of the highest grade. The rendition of Al Jolson's "Mammy," sung in Chinese by Miss Meers and her henchmen, Ching Ho (Charlie Monnot) and Bun Foo (James A. Hughes), with English translation in supertitles, is a droll oddity.

Jake DeTommaso does a fine job playing Jimmy Smith, Millie's love interest, and Kurt Leftwich, in good voice, as usual, and improving in acting, is her blue-blood boss.

The show seems squishy and never lands on solid ground, artistically or technically "” at least at it wasn't on opening night. The first thing one notices is James A. Hughes' funereal set design, in which the predominant color is black. Michael James' costumes largely follow the same lugubrious color scheme, with some notable exceptions: Terjuana Townes, as jazz singer Muzzy, looks like the Queen of Sheba in a white mink cape, for instance.

At the reviewed debut performance, the actors' amplified voices were out of balance with the orchestra too much of the time, rendering many lyrics unintelligible. Chelcy Costine's pedestrian, rather than enlightening, choreography consists mainly of popular, clich
 
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