Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Thoroughly Modern Millie

The Playhouse, Edinburgh
Three stars

Everybody is play-acting in Richard Norris and Dick Scanlan's stage musical of the prohibition era 1967 comedy film concerning a Kansas City wannabe who moves to the Big Apple to get herself a wealthy husband but ends up with much more than she bargained for. It's there in the way Joanne Clifton's Millie makes all her lifestyle choices from the pages of Vogue magazine. It's there too in the way her wannabe starlet gal pal Miss Dorothy affects even more airs and graces. Most of all it's there in the form of speak-easy chanteuse and society hostess Muzzy Van Hossmere, as the seemingly penniless Jimmy Smith falls for Millie in every way.

Featuring music by Jeanine Tesori with lyrics by Scanlan, this makes for much archness in a new touring production directed by Racky Plews more than a decade after the show won six Tony awards on Broadway. The songs reference everything from Gilbert and Sullivan to showtime schmaltz. The white slave trade plot that survives from the movie, and which features Michelle Collins as pseudo-oriental hotelier Mrs Meers, is like something straight out of old-school pantopanto, though not always in a good way. As Millie enters New York's social whirl, there are even cameos for George Gershwin and Dorothy Parker.

Inbetween all this is a frothy comment on female aspiration during cash-strapped times in which Clifton makes for a blousy and hard-boiled but still charming Millie, while Graham MacDuff does a neat line in slapstick boozyness as Millie's boss Trevor Graydon. Ultimately this is a show that makes for a pleasant but not always memorable experience which arrives at the King's Theatre, Glasgow, next week.

The Herald, February 2nd 2017

ends

No comments: