Thoroughly Modern Millie

The bright lights of the big city have been a lure for youngsters from the countryside for as long as urban centers have been around, but nowhere has the excitement of the adventure been celebrated with as much gusto as it is in the Broadway musical. A short sampling of tunes that capture the essence of these country-to-city pilgrimages include "Meet Me in St. Louis," "Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City," and, "Not For The Life Of Me" from Thoroughly Modern Millie, now running at BDT Stage.

Thoroughly Modern Millie ensemble
Thoroughly Modern Millie ensemble
Photo: Glenn Ross
Millie Dillmount (Seles VanHuss), an ambitious girl from Kansas, seeks modernity in the cutthroat and competitive beehive of the Big Apple in 1922; but right off the train, she gets robbed and then runs into a fella, Jimmy Smith (Burke Walton), who tells her to go home. Not this gal! VanHuss, belts out a spirited rendition of "Not For the Life of Me," which climaxes with Millie tearing up her return ticket, and embracing the challenge. How VanHuss maintains this energy level, singing in 80% of the numbers, is a testament to her youthful exuberance, well-trained and well-tempered soprano, and her charm.

Seles VanHuss as Millie Dillmount and Scott Severtson as Mr. Trevor Graydon
Seles VanHuss as Millie Dillmount and
Scott Severtson as Mr. Trevor Graydon
Photo: Glenn Ross
VanHuss is "as fresh as an apple on Christmas day," as Paul Simon once put it. We're all rooting for her Millie to fulfill her dream of marrying her rich boss, Mr. Trevor Graydon (Scott Severtson), and living happily ever after, except that he has fallen for Millie's BFF, Dorothy Brown (Rebekah Ortiz). Meanwhile, the fun-loving Smith won't give up courting Millie, disrupting her work during the day, peeving Millie's steno and typing taskmaster, Miss Flannery (Tracey Warren); while at night, Jimmy introduces her to the glitterati, including a leading socialite, Muzzy (Alicia K. Meyers), who takes Millie under her wing. Meanwhile, girls keep disappearing from Mrs. Meers' (Joanie Brousseau) boarding house, where Millie and Dorothy are staying.

In addition to VanHuss' winning numbers, and her sweet duet with Walton on the 20th floor window ledge, Brousseau brings down the house with Mrs. Meer's darkly comedic solo, "They Don't Know," and Meyers dazzles with Muzzy's bluesy "Only in New York."

Director Scott Beyette keeps the action crisp, while choreographer Matthew D. Peters has a field day with all the great dance numbers, featuring a full dose of tap, as well as the Charleston and other vintage moves. Linda Morken's costumes, particular for the flappers, are stunning.

Based on the 1967 film of the same name, which itself was based on the British musical Chrysanthemum (London, 1956), the stage version of Thoroughly Modern Millie opened on Broadway in 2002, and won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. If you've never seen it, do yourself a favor and take in this delightful romantic comedy.

BDT Stage's presentation of Thoroughly Modern Millie, runs through February 25, 2017. For tickets, call (303) 449-6000 x4.

Bob Bows

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