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Cappies: 'Millie' with heart at Clayton High

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 6, 2013 - Fun, laughter and love tie together the story of the fearless Millie Dillmount in her pursuit of becoming the “thoroughly modern woman.” Clayton High School’s production of Thoroughly Modern Millie makes for an exceptional interpretation of the dazzling damsel determined to make her own way in New York City, bobbed hair and all.

Thoroughly Modern Millie is an adaptation of a 1960s movie musical starring Julie Andrews, revived and reworked by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan in the original Broadway production in 2002 starring Sutton Foster as the fiery Millie Dillmount, launching her now well known Broadway career.

Emily Gudmestad and Ben Diamond as the reluctant love struck couple of Millie and Jimmy have strong stage presence with believable chemistry naturally building throughout the show. Gudmenstad’s solid vocals provided the needed energy for each scene. Diamond’s character development along with the command of his songs made a compelling complement to Gudmenstad’s accurate character portrayal.

James Kerr as the captivating and haughty boss Trevor Graydon takes full advantage of his dramatic songs and exaggerated character traits in every scene. We yearn for the next time he appears on stage, and he never disappoints with his clear and strong vocals, also drawing much needed energy to the stage. The hilarious ensemble of Robbie Love and Sam Stern (Bun Foo and Ching Ho, respectively) bring light comic relief to the show as the subservient foreigners of the evil Mrs. Meers. Remarkably in sync with great comic timing, Love and Stern make a hilarious duo and make every song and dance possibly more enjoyable than the original numbers. Carly Beard as the stodgy and firm Miss Flannery delights, especially in “Forget About the Boy” as she transforms into a tap dancing love sick girl.

Costuming ( Isabella Gaidis and Zoe Till- Meidinger) have excellent (if a little exaggerated) portrayals of the world of the 1920s in New York. The visual appeal of the costumes adds even more authenticity to this production (and makes it appear high quality). The mics of those who had them worked smoothly throughout the show and were not noticeably lacking in discernment or quality. The energetic pit orchestra of Clayton High School seamlessly supported the singers on stage, performing as a professional quality group.

Throughout the show, in the ensemble numbers, the chorus struggled to be heard over the orchestra, with many lines or additions inaudible. The background dancing, however, added great flavor to the atmosphere of the show. The small ensembles carry greater energy as they are highlighted.

Clayton High School’s production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, led by strong performers warms the heart of the viewer through the remarkable dancing and singing. Supported by the cast of technical players, this production adds a great afternoon of hilarity to the theater.

Brigitta Davis is a local high school student.