Like Meet Me in St. Louis, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Singin' in the Rain, the musical comedy Thoroughly Modern Millie started out as a movie (1967) and only later was made into a Broadway show (2002). But, unlike its predecessors that followed the movie versions to the letter, the Broadway version of Millie keeps the general plot line and rearranges just about everything else.
The bouncy, happy-go-lucky show opens Thursday and continues for three weekends at Richey Suncoast Theatre.
Set in the 1922 flapper girl days, Millie is the story of a money-hungry Millie Dillmount, a spunky but naive Kansas girl who goes to New York City to land a rich husband — an age-old practice that she thinks is very modern.
Once in the Big Apple, Millie (Alyson Larkin, Pegeen in Mame) is promptly mugged and robbed, semirescued by the young, handsome, ne'er-do-well Jimmy Smith (Jeffrey Oles, Ren in Footloose), then checks into the seemingly respectable Hotel Priscilla for Single Women.
Unbeknownst to Millie, the hotel owner, Mrs. Meers (Tracie Callahan, Agnes Gooch in Mame) is running a white slavery ring out of the hotel in cahoots with two nice young men from China, Ching Ho (Keith Surplus, Johnny in Unsinkable Molly Brown) and Bun Foo (George Brazier), who only want to earn some money to bring their mom over from China. Their targets are orphan girls who can easily "disappear" without anyone checking to see where they went.
Millie, who may or may not be a target for Mrs. Meers, quickly runs out of money and is just about to be evicted, when young Dorothy Brown (Michelle Procida) arrives to check in. Millie promptly asks her to share a room (with Dorothy paying the rent, of course), but when Mrs. Meers learns that Dorothy is an orphan, she insists that she take the new, sunny room that was just mysteriously and suddenly vacated by Ethel Peas (Dandy Blethroad), an orphan with no relatives.
Meanwhile, Millie has been researching New York's rich, eligible men in the city and lands a job at Sincere Trust, where the boss is rich, eligible Trevor Graydon III (Rob Tilley, Tommy Awards for Che in Evita and Freddie in Chess).
All seems to be on track, except that Millie doesn't really love Trevor, and Trevor is in love with someone else. Out celebrating finding not only a job, but also a prospective husband, Millie runs into Jimmy at a speakeasy. Jimmy invites her to come along to a big party at the home of famous singer Muzzy van Hossmere (Kristen Bram Broughton, Daisy Mae in Li'l Abner), where Jimmy says his dad was once the gardener.
From there, it's love run amok, in fine Broadway and Hollywood fashion, where everyone seems to fall in love with the wrong person who really is the right person, and they all get the wrong idea about each other.
Then there's Mrs. Meers and the disappearing girls, one of them being Millie's best friend Dorothy. Somehow, in between the songs and dances, the love matches and kidnappings must be worked out for everyone.
In addition to the principal actors, there's a chorus of 17 singers/dancers and a few "celebrities." The score has both new songs and some oldies like Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life and a zany take on Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker called The Nuttycracker Suite.
Thoroughly Modern Millie ran for more than two years on Broadway and won both the Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for "best musical." It played for eight weeks at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in early 2009.
The director is Marie Skelton, co-director is Linda Hougland and music director is Steven Schildbach.