The award-winning 2002 Broadway musical Thoroughly Modern Millie is a happy-go-lucky romance on the surface, with a dark subplot driving the action.
The high-spirited musical opens Feb. 27 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre for an eight-week run, with a cast of new faces and Show Palace favorites.
It's the story of young Millie Dillmount (Missy Dowse, national tour of Gypsy), who, in 1922, leaves her small hometown in Kansas to go to New York City with hopes of landing a rich husband, a perfectly natural goal in that era. She bobs her hair, rolls her stockings and rouges her lips, making her a thoroughly modern girl.
Millie is immediately mugged and robbed, then semirescued by Jimmy Smith (Joey Panek, Che in Evita at Golden Apple in Sarasota), who suggests she get a room at the Hotel Priscilla for Women.
Little does Jimmy know that the Priscilla is a front for a Chinese white slavery ring (based on true events in the early 20th century), run by the washed-up chorus girl Mrs. Meers (Susan Haldeman, Mrs. Claus in Frosty Follies), who pretends to be Chinese. Mrs. Meers and two desperate Chinese cohorts, Ching Ho (Steven Cuevas, M. Butterfly at Forestburgh Playhouse in New York) and Bun Foo (Mikhail Pontenila, national tour of The Little Mermaid), drug and kidnap the girls at the hotel and ship them overseas to be prostitutes.
Millie meets the other hotel guests — a half dozen aspiring but out-of-work actresses — who are talking about the dangers of being kidnapped, but that issue is forgotten as a beautiful new guest arrives, the clueless Miss Dorothy Brown (Annie Janson, Usherette in The Producers). Right away, Dorothy and Millie become roommates and best friends.
Millie soon gets a job as stenographer for the handsome young tycoon Trevor Graydon (W.C. Green, Johnny in The Unsinkable Molly Brown), a good marriage prospect, and the girls go out to celebrate.
Jimmy steers them to a speakeasy, where they dance up a storm (The Nutty Cracker Suite), until the cops raid the joint, giving Jimmy and Millie a chance to get to know each other up close.
Later, Jimmy invites Millie to a party at the penthouse of glamorous and wealthy widow Muzzy Van Hossmere (Paulette Dozier, Carbonell Award winner), where they meet the rich and famous. Millie ends up in a passionate kiss with Jimmy, and the two fall in love.
As Mrs. Meers continues to try to dope and deport the young women at her boarding hotel, Millie tries to forget Jimmy and make herself fall in love with her rich boss.
Jimmy invites everyone to go to the ritzy Cafe Society to hear Muzzy perform, but Jimmy and Millie wind up in the kitchen washing dishes when they don't have enough money to pay the bill, making her more determined than ever not to marry a poor man.
Meanwhile, not only has Millie's boss fallen in love with Dorothy, so has Ching Ho, the one person who can save her from the white slavery ring.
When they all realize something evil is going on with Mrs. Meers, everyone's best-laid plans begin to unravel, but only in the best way possible.
The musical is based on the 1967 film, but has added 13 songs and more plot. The Broadway production won both Tony and Drama Desk awards for Best Musical of 2002.
The show is directed by Michael Ursua (Bloom in The Producers) and choreographed by Katie Kerwin.