Thoroughly Modern Millie

thoroughly-modern-millie-landor

I attended Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Landor on Thursday 27th August. Thoroughly Modern Millie is a musical set in the early 1920’s which sees Millie arrive in New York, determined to do things the modern way and marry for money rather than love. She checks into a hotel run by Mrs Meers who is actually the leader of a white slavery ring. Millie of course meets and falls in love with Jimmy who appears poor and not quite in keeping with her modern ambition.

This appears to be an unusual choice of show for the Landor as it is normally performed with a cast of at least 20, something which the Landor cannot accommodate. This production had a scaled back cast of 12, the majority of which playing 2 or even 3 roles within the show. All of the cast have a great energy and burst to life the minute there is an upbeat number. The dance aspect and choreography of this show is one of my favourite elements. The choreography by Sam Spencer Lane is flamboyant and fun and the cast triple pirouette to perfection.

thoroughly-modern-millie-landor
The central character of Millie is played by Francesca Lara Gordon. Millie can be a hard part to pitch as parts of her character (her desire to marry for money for example) doesn’t sit well with the modern audience however Francesca wins the audience over with the sincerity she played the role. I would have liked a bit more belt to her voice which would have given the part a bit more oompf and also distinguished her more from Miss Dorothy. Miss Dorothy played by Sarah-Marie Maxwell is played brilliantly. She looks perfect for the part and really picks up on the comedy required in the show. Her vocals are perfect – soprano and sickly sweet and with every batting of her doll like eyelashes you can understand why she has men falling at her feet.

I must give a nod to Christina Meehan who played Miss Flannery. She made this small role very memorable with her comedy expressions never faltering, even during the full on dance routine of ‘Forget About the Boy.’

A lot of the cast were very young. Whilst I love watching fresh faces on the musical theatre scene in this case it meant that some of the gravitas and natural authority needed for some of these roles were lost. My main bone of contention where this issue was concerned was Muzzy Van Hosmere, played by Chipo Kureya. This was not a reflection on the actress playing her but simply that the part calls for an older actress and Chipo looks a very similar age to Francesca. I would have liked to see more old fashion smoothness, authority, charm and sex appeal coming from Millie’s boss Mr Graydon, played by Samuel Harris also.

I was very impressed with the transformation that the Landor went with art deco decor lining the floor and walls and it looked like a completely different venue to the one I was used to. Good space was made of the Landor although I did miss seeing multiple stenographers at desks tapping away.

I do think Thoroughly Modern Millie works better in a larger space as the success of this show relies on the big dance numbers and whilst done very well in this show I would have loved to have seen double the amount of people performing it and a bigger sound coming from the cast.

Thoroughly Modern Millie is on at the Landor until the 13th September.

3 comments

  • Hi – just wanted to make a comment on you saying the venue can’t accommodate bigger cast sizes. The recent show The Clockmaker’s Daughter had around 20, as did Damn Yankees late last year. Their production of Ragtime a few years ago must’ve had around 30!
    I’d also say the Landor looks different every time I’ve been, from the images Millie looks nice but I’d never say the Landor looks the same!

    • Hi – thanks for your comment- let me assure you that I LOVE the Landor and none of my comments were meant to come across derogatory. Whilst I appreciate what you are saying re cast size – I’m comparing it more to the huge West End stages – I believe that Millie in the West End had a cast of over 30 and an orchestra of 16. Whilst in theory the Landor could accommodate 30 there would not have been room for them to perform some of the energetic dance numbers. To me part of the charm of the Landor is it’s size – I love that you are at most 3 rows away from the performers and there is a more intimate vibe but of course there are down sides and it perfect for more intimate shows – I just don’t think Millie is one of those shows.

  • The In’house shows at the Landor (Theatrica Productions under Robert McWhir) tend to have large casts of 20 or 21 and never feel cramped. This production is not an in-house musical – its a new company starting out who have rented the space. If “Millie” makes the theatre feel small then please look at the other productions created here by other companies, particularly by Theatrica – it doesn’t have to feel small

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