Warning: this article contains spoilers for the Broadway musical Thoroughly Modern Millie.
On April 16, our Bomber Thespians took to the stage “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” which tells the story of Millie Dillmount (Isabelle Babin), a young woman looking to make it in 1920s New York. The show is ensemble-heavy and full of dance, song, and spirit.
The cast was phenomenal, and the choreography was so well done– just take a look at a clip from The Nutty Cracker Suite (left). In fact, “Forget About the Boy” was the troupe’s submission for group musical at the Arkansas State Thespian Festival (the rating was stripped of them due to the surplus of chairs, but it was well-received by the judges).
I loved Muzzy Van Hossmere (Joia Traver)’s take on loving somebody with no regard of their class or fortune. “While I truly prefer emeralds,” she says, “we could’ve made it on green glass.”
However, Millie’s development is seemingly all for naught, as Jimmy– thought to be a bachelor with nothing to his name– ends up being a multimillionaire in disguise (to be fair, I should’ve seen the green glass speech as a form of foreshadowing).
I was also surprised that the show touched on somewhat ‘mature’ themes. They go to a speakeasy and drink and the antagonist– Mrs. Meers (Suzanna Pickers)– sends orphaned women into white slavery in Hong Kong.
I wondered why the characters only seemed to care when Meers (who is actually failed actress turned criminal Daisy Crumpler) plans to traffic Miss Dorothy (Ava Bliss). They threaten to send Meers to jail… “unless [she] hand[s] over Miss Dorothy.” Their only expressed qualms are with their friend’s endangerment– not the other girls (though it’s implied), imitating an Asian woman, nor holding her henchmens’ sick mother over their heads.
With that being said, Meers gets what’s coming to her and the story/format isn’t made to have nuanced conversations about these subjects. It’s difficult to immerse your story in Prohibition Era New York without delving into, well, the Prohibition. The aforementioned themes are brought up subtly enough for the musical to be considered family-friendly.
Nevertheless, their execution of this show was amazing. I’m used to being involved in productions, so being able to view the musical from an outside lens was refreshing, to say the least. I found myself days after opening night singing the songs at home or reviewing footage to relive that initial delight.
Troupe alumnus Grace Avants was “mind blown” by the production (just as I was). “The dancing was incredible,” she raves. “Half of the students in this production are first-timers and for first-timers they were naturals! My attention was drawn the entire time. This production is tough but, as I said, they killed it! I couldn’t be happier for my fellow troupe members.”
Knowing the production was mostly student-led/done makes it all that more impressive. The set was detailed and followed a homogenous style/color scheme. The costumes/props were gorgeous (although some were rented, quite a few were sewn by Maupin’s Stagecraft class; in fact, she will be instructing Costume Design next year).
The spring production brings the troupe’s season to a close, but there’s still Backstage Bash to look forward to–as well as the next school year.
Cast member Sierra Trogdon says, “[The show] was an amazing production with an even more amazing cast. Being a part of this show was an experience like no other and it was such as bright light in what has been a dim year!”
[More photos and footage can be found here]