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  • Pamela Froman

Thoroughly Modern Millie

It's 1922 and aspiring “modern” girl Millie arrives on the streets of New York fresh from her small town Kansas roots. She's got a plan, bob her hair, and marry her rich boss, any rich boss will do. But she is tripped up – literally – when she is mugged on the streets, losing her hat, scarf, purse and even her shoe. In a panic for someone to help her, she meets bypasser Jimmy Smith, a handsome, carefree young man without a cent to his name, who makes his way through life on his charm and sass. Though the two are first at odds, they eventually come together. Thoroughly Modern Millie features music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Dick Scanlan, and a book by Richard Morris and Scanlan. It is based on the 1967 film of the same name.

Jimmy Smith is masterfully acted by Nick Tubbs. His voice is incredible and displayed perfectly in songs like “What Do I Need With Love.” His turn as Jimmy is sweet and endearing.

Millie Dillmount is played by Colette Peters, and she truly belts out an amazing performance with style during songs such as “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Not for the Life of Me.” Her turn as Millie is lovable and funny, and we are rooting for her!

Millie revels in the flapper lifestyle, but problems arise when she checks into the Hotel Priscilla. It's owned by Mrs. Meers – a former actress who spearheads a white slavery ring in Hong Kong, kidnapping pretty orphan girls. She is played to perfection by Stephanie Lesh-Farrell, who truly shines as she switches between the appearance of a meek Asian woman, welcoming girls who are alone in the world, and an evil slaver, selling the same girls. We love to hate her!

Millie meets the rich Miss Dorothy, who wants to learn about being poor. Sleeping on the floor? Great, she can't wait! Bryce Hamilton creates a sweet image of her naïve and obviously wealthy character. Soon enough Millie and Dorothy become fast friends.

The girls go to a speakeasy, where they meet Jimmy, but the club is raided by the police. While waiting for his release in the jail cell, Jimmy realizes that he loves Millie. But Millie needs some convincing! Jimmy introduces Millie to his friend – the very rich singer Muzzy Van Hossmere, who married for love – to a multimillionaire. She befriends and counsels Millie to give Jimmy a chance. Muzzy is played by Monica Quinn and her stage presence and singing is phenomenal.

Mrs. Meers is unwillingly assisted by two Asian brothers, Ching Ho (played by Khemuni Norodom) and Bun Foo (Niko Montelibano) who are simply trying to make enough money to bring their mother to the States from Hong Kong. It's what Mrs. Meers has promised them, but it is the proverbial carrot on the stick.

This play is sweet and funny, with some truly memorable songs. In “I'm Falling in Love With Someone” we feel the spark between Trevor Graydon (Millie's boss/coveted fiance, played by Brent Ramirez) and Miss Dorothy – and the wooing is hilarious. In “Forget About the Boy” Millie tries to suppress her growing love for Jimmy, dueting along with Miss Flannery, her supervisor, acted to perfection by Ginny Grady.

Jimmy proposes to Millie, and, poor as he is, she accepts, “because if it's marriage I've got in mind, love has everything to do with it.” Truer words were never spoken!

Thoroughly Modern Mille runs through Oct. 21 at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, located at 3050 Los Angeles Ave., in Simi Valley. Tickets are $25 adults, $22 students/seniors, and $18 children 12 and under. For more information call (805) 583-7900 or log onto www.simi-arts.org

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