Thoroughly Modern Millie
by The International Thespian Cast Production

Elizabeth Anne Elliott. Photo by R. Bruhn Photography.The International Thespian Society officially opened their festival with the world premiere of the student edition of Thoroughly Modern Millie with a cast pulled from some of the top high school performers all across the country, and with the writers Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan in attendance. And despite only having a handful of rehearsals until a week before the show, expectations were extremely high. Expectations that were shattered by a production that wowed on every level. 

In the show, Millie Dillmount arrives in New York City fresh from Salina, Kansas with big dreams of creating an exciting (and lucrative) new life (by marrying a rich boss). The performer of this Millie hails from Hoover, Alabama, and it’s easy to believe she’ll be very successful in New York. Elizabeth Anne Elliott is a remarkable talent who brings it with her singing, acting, and tapping. The role is inevitably tied to Sutton Foster’s Tony-winning performance, making it difficult to live up to. But Elizabeth created a thoroughly engaging Millie that is similar enough and different enough from the original to make her both lovable and new. Her personality shines throughout – from her big opening to her attempted seduction of boss Trevor Graydon to her falling into “that thing called love” in her terrific solo Gimme Gimme

And then you’ve got the rest of the all-star (or soon-will-be-stars) cast. Previously mentioned boss Trevor Graydon is a natural comedian with excellent timing and sense for the over-the-top character, with Braxton Molinaro from Kenosha, Wisconsin beginning as a steady, manly, self-assured businessman, then becoming a helplessly fragile flower of a man when he falls for Millie’s friend Miss Dorothy, a slumming debutante played most charmingly by the amusing Jessica Richards (Charlotte, North Carolina). Leading man Jimmy Smith is the easygoing, street-smart but penniless average Joe who eventually shows Millie the ropes of the town, and ends up getting his heart tied up in the process. David King (Portland, Oregon) is a likeable Jimmy who delivers on his solo What Do I Need With Love during which he decides whether to break out of jail or stick around in the hopes of seeing Millie when they get released (it seems they violated a few minor sections of the Prohibition Act). Jimmy introduces Millie to both jail and his jazz celebrity friend Muzzy van Hossmere, with Jenna Paulette (Plano, Texas) turning in an amazing period voice and style that one could listen to for hours.  

Antonio Addeo, Rachel Buethe, and Louis Casados. Photo by R. Bruhn Photography.And then we get to the terrifyingly melodramatic underbelly of the musical – the “white slavery” ring led by none other than Millie’s landlord, the mysterious Mrs. Meers. Rachel Buethe (Shorewood, Wisconsin) is a wicked hit as the evil character actress with a humorously outrageous Chinese accent and equally outrageous body language. Aiding Meers are her two recently arrived Chinese employees who don’t know English yet (translations are given via clever subtitles), but they do know that they’re up to no good. However, it’s all for a good cause – trying to get their Muqin/Mammy from China to America. Antonio Addeo (Levittown, Pennsylvania) and Louis Casados (Thornton, Colorado) make for a great comic team as they go about their work folding towels and kidnapping poor orphan tenants. And Antonio is a riot as he falls for and pursues Miss Dorothy, winning both our hearts and laughter with many unique and subtle additions to the character. 

The whole production depends heavily on a top-notch ensemble that can dance and sing and infuse the big show-stopping numbers, and they’ve got it. Brenda Didier’s choreography, and Christie Kerr’s work on the Speed Test and Forget Braxton Molinaro and Jessica Richards. Photo by R. Bruhn Photography. About the Boy, creates fun, electric, original, and challenging dance numbers that the cast executes with style and expertise. Then they throw in some dancing set changers who at times become part of the set – most memorably when two of them push the ledge of a skyscraper into the middle of the stage, then turn around and transform themselves into motionless gargoyles. The set of skyscrapers that turn around to become a variety of other sets were designed by Trevor Gohr. And adding to the great visuals are some magnificent 1920s costumes by Terry McGonigle that include not just standard flapper outfits, but several imaginative and beautiful gowns that both stand out and flow together well.  

Director Holly Stanfield (Kenosha, Wisconsin) deserves tremendous credit for bringing all this together and staging a production that captures the humor, the dancing, and the characters so perfectly. That Holly, the cast, and the crew were able to put on such an elaborate production with so little time together is quite a feat. And they even had the spare time to do a silent film-style video opening of the credits with the cast members coming out to pose for their names, ending with Millie whose video image becomes the mirror image of the real Millie who starts the play alone on stage, suitcases in hand, and ready to burn the bridge to Kansas and start her modern adventures in 1920s New York City. 

Performed June 26, 2007.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre
~ Cast ~
Photo by R. Bruhn Photography.

Millie Dillmount: Elizabeth Elliott
Jimmy Smith: David King
Ruth: Elizabeth Judd
Gloria: Beth Mawhinney
Rita: Chelsea Turbin
Alice: Jennifer Bell
Cora: Audrey Cardwell
Lucille: Taylor Aldrich
Ethel Pease (Millie u/s): Katie Johannigman
Mrs. Meers: Rachel Buethe
Miss Dorothy Brown: Jessica Richards
Ching Ho: Antonio Addeo
Bun Foo: Louis Casados
Miss Flannery: Amy Harpenau
Mr. Trevor Graydon: Braxton Molinaro
The Pearl Lady: Taylor Neville
The Letch: Samuel Lips
Policeman: Aaron Ricciardi
Muzzy van Hossmere: Jenna Paulette
George Gershwin: Charles Osborne
Dorothy Parker: Brittany Vissor
Rodney: Tyler Jones
Kenneth: Blake Daniel
Daphne: Brittany Visser
Dexter: Michael Carr
Mathilde: Jennnifer McCormick
New Modern: Caley Crawford
Old Man: Corey Warren
Mama: Wesley Jetton
Taylor Aldrich
Jennifer Bell
Giovanni Bonaventura
Audrey Cardwell
Michael Carr
Caley Crawford
Blake Daniel
Amy Harpenau
Luis Herrera
Katie Johannigman
Tyler Jones
Wesley Jetton
Scott Joy
Elizabeth Judd
Samuel Lips
Beth Mawhinney
Jennifer McCormick
Taylor Neville
Charles Osborne
Aaron Ricciardi
Taylor Simon
Chelsea Turbin
Brittany Visser
Bobby Walker
Corey Warren
Tucker Worley

Director: Holly Stanfield
Technical Direction: Jodi Williams
Orchestral Direction: Alex Tyler
Choreographer: Brenda Didier
Choreographer for "Speed Test" and "Forget About the Boy": Christie Kerr
Assistant to the Choreographer: Annie Hackett
Costume Designer: Terry McGonigle
Lighting Designer: John R. Dolphin
Scenic Designer: Trevor Gohr
Stage Managers: Scott Frost, Ashley Jupp, Josh Swenson

Photos by R. Bruhn Photography:


Home   |   Awards   |   Reviews   |   News   |   Actors   |   Headshots   |   Theatres   |   Calendars   |   Newsletters   |   Membership
Auditions   |   Workshops   |   Drama Instruction   |   Playwrights/Scripts   |   Vendors   |   Links   |   Advertising   |   About Us