Thoroughly Modern Millie UK Tour Review

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Thoroughly Modern Millie UK Tour Review

Thoroughly Modern Millie UK Tour Cast

Joanne Clifton (Millie Dillmount), Michelle Collins (Mrs Meers), Sam Barrett (Jimmy Smith), Graham MacDuff (Mr Trevor Graydon), Jenny Fitzpatrick (Muzzy Van Hossmere), Katherine Glover (Miss Dorothy Brown). More here.

Thoroughly Modern Millie UK Tour Review

This musical is anything but modern. Based on the 1967 film of the same name, Thoroughly Modern Millie tells the story of a young woman’s adventures in love and life as she arrives to start afresh in New York. Jobless and homeless she checks into a hotel full of similar women; it’s run by the incognito Mrs Meers (Michelle Collins) and is, in fact, an undercover white slavery distribution centre. The superficial plot that unfolds is farcical in nature and ties itself to an abrupt end with a wealth of clunky dialogue – like many musicals of its time, the largely forgettable songs, while enjoyable, are superfluous to the plot. Thank goodness the genre has progressed.

The Mrs Meers role treads a fine line and I’m not sure that Collins was on the right side of it. The character is a pantomime villain and uses a Chinese inspired disguise throughout most of the show – the way it overtly plays to Asian stereotypes doesn’t sit well with a modern audience. It’s a lose, lose situation. Ham it up too much and you’re making fun of an entire culture; do too little and it’s not clear the character is in disguise. Either way, I have no clue how the other characters on stage don’t realise something’s up because, quite frankly, it’s blatantly obvious.

Putting my misgivings about the piece itself aside, the talented ensemble delivers this production’s many flapper style dance numbers with a contagious enthusiasm but more often than not, during the vast waves of dialogue, it lacks oomph as characters are all too often left stranded, static, on the stage. Joanne Clifton, best known for her tenure as a professional on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, pleasantly surprises in the title role. Aside from performing the choreography flawlessly, she sings with great strength and clarity while competently embodying a Millie you can’t help but root for. However, it’s Graham MacDuff’s comedic turn as a highly inebriated Trevor Graydon (Millie’s boss and marriage target) that really steals the show.

Overall, to my millennial eyes, Thoroughly Modern Millie feels very dated. Musicals are at their best when they move or educate – this piece does neither, but the fun choreography and solid performances do entertain. I give Thoroughly Modern Millie a rating of 2.5/5.

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