“Thoroughly Modern Millie” a treat

by W. Fred Crow, The Arts
Milpitas Post/Fremont Bulletin – August 3, 2006

Star Struck Theatre once again brings a palette of talent and a pile of pizzazz to the stage with its production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” This is a complete show, a comprehensive affair, a show equal with the professionals. Not much is missed, with much to enjoy.

Director Lori Stokes knows the stage well and can draw out the best from cast and crew. The production of “Millie” is no exception. The set was functionally simple, yet with audience appeal. The costumes were dazzling and delightful. The orchestra, directed by Nancy Godfrey, was solid in sound and superb in execution. The sound system overcame an outdoor environment with clarity and ease. The acting was sound and the voices wonderful. All the pieces fit, everything working together.

Set in the 1920s, Millie Dillmount (Courtney Stokes) comes to New York from Kansas seeking employment and a wedding ring, not necessarily in that order. She finds Mrs. Meers’ rooming house for girls and later secures a job as a secretary. Mrs. Meers (Aimee Collins) has a side hobby as a white-slaver of orphan girls: “De are or-fans. No one will miss dem.” Typical to musicals, the storyline is bounced about. Millie likes Mr. Graydon (Evan Boomer), her rich boss, who happens to like Miss Dorothy Brown (Natalie Hawkins), an actress of future acclaim. Miss Brown is abducted by Mrs. Meers for a little side cash, who has hireling Ching Ho (Bryant Soong) kidnap Miss Brown. But instead he saves her life. She falls madly in love with her new protector, much to the consternation of Mr. Graydon. Into the mix comes soft-spender Jimmy Smith (Kyle Padilla) upending her determination to marry rich. Smith eventually wins Millie’s heart, and to her astonishment, still ends up marrying for money. Smith is rich beyond her imagination.

The choreography by guest Michael Jenkinson (resident choreographer for Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts, Santa Monica) was outstanding. The dictation dance in the first act was a delight all by itself, as were the subtitled Mandarin-Cantonese exchanges between Ching Ho and Bun Foo. Hilarious.

Star Struck Theatre’s production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is pure fun. The musical plays at the Ohlone College outdoor amphitheater in Fremont through Aug. 12. Call the box office at (510) 659-1319 for ticket information.