AISLE SAY San Francisco


Music by Jeanine Tesori & others
Lyrics by Dick Scanlan & others
Book by Richard Morris & Dick Scanlan
Directed by Michael Mayer
Presented by American Musical Theatre of San Jose
San Jose Center for the Performing Arts
255 Almaden Blvd., San Jose / (888) 455-7469

Reviewed by Judy Richter

The national touring production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie," winner of the 2002 Tony Award for best musical, has found its way to San Jose, where it's pleasing American Musical Theatre of San Jose audiences with all the polish and razzmatazz one expects of a Broadway musical. Don't expect much of a plot, but there's just enough to hold everything together and provide the framework for bubbly songs, amusing characters, lively dancing and handsome costumes. In fact, it's all quite cleverly constructed with several musical allusions to keep connoisseurs on their toes.

The show also has a topnotch cast led by the irrepressible Darcie Roberts as Millie Dillmount, the young Kansas woman who goes to New York City in the '20s with a scheme to get rich by marrying her boss. Never mind that she doesn't even have a job yet and that she's almost broke; Millie is sure she'll succeed. She winds up living in a hotel that caters to actresses, who befriend her, and managed by the evil Mrs. Meers (Hollis Resnik). She also gets a job in a steno pool, but her eligible boss, Trevor Graydon (Sean Allan Krill), has no romantic interest in her. However, someone she meets by accident, Jimmy Smith (Joey Sorge), is more than interested. Things get complicated after that with Mrs. Meers involved in white slavery and a nightclub singer, Muzzy Van Hossmere (Pamela Isaacs), helping to rescue one of Mrs. Meers' victims and in the process helping Millie and Jimmy get together.

Based on a film staring Julie Andrews, the book is by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan. Some of the music is by Jeanine Tesori with new lyrics by Scanlan, but the musical credits run a gamut with such illustrious composers as Victor Herbert, Peter Tchaikovsky (a clever adaptation from "The Nutcracker") and Sir Arthur Sullivan (a patter song redubbed "The Speed Test" with lyrics by Scanlan).

Wit abounds throughout the show, and the entire cast, directed by Michael Mayer with Eric Stern as musical director, is topnotch. Except for Roberts, whose voice is piercing (not helped by too much amplification by sound designer Jon Weston), the singing is terrific, as is the dancing, choreographed by Rob Ashford. What Roberts lacks in a pleasing singing voice, however, is more than made up in her stage presence, comic timing and dancing. The chic, colorful costumes are by Martin Pakledinaz, lighting by Donald Holder and set design by David Gallo.

The whole package adds up to a sophisticated, thoroughly amusing musical.

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