I think I might have a new contender for my Top Ten Musicals list. This highly competitive list has pretty much been set in stone for years…..until yesterday. I am now facing the difficult decision of which one to drop, as Thoroughly Modern Millie storms onto the list, after I saw it at the Bristol Hippodrome.
It is rare that I will attend a musical at the Hippodrome that I haven’t seen before. I am a musical theatre buff, and have been watching shows for years. Even if I haven’t seen it on stage I will more than likely have watched the film, or read the book that it is based on. However I had no idea of the plot to Thoroughly Modern Millie, and actually enjoyed sitting through a show that was completely new to me. And what a fab show it was!!
The musical is set in America in the 1920’s, and follows the story of feisty (modern) Millie, who moves to the city with one plan – to find a wealthy boss and marry him. Though she is very fond of the penniless Jimmy she’s determined to marry her boss Trevor. But there is a flaw to her plan, as Trevor loves Millie’s new best friend Dorothy Brown. All four are thrown together to defeat evil landlady Mrs. Meers, who schemes to sell orphaned girls (including Dorothy) into slavery.
I love a baddie, and so it is no surprise that my favourite character was Mrs Mears, played by Lucas Rush. In true pantomime baddie style he portrayed the character well, and played up to the boos he received during the curtain call. I especially liked the comic expressions on his face when he was caught out speaking in his usual voice, instead of the high pitched voice he uses for his disguise of the Chinese Mrs Meers. His catchphrase ‘Sad to be all alone in the world’ certainly raised a few laughs! There were some great scene involving Mrs Meers and two reluctant helpers Ching Ho (Nick Len) and Bun Foo (Andy Yau), including a fantastic scene where they sing a song in Chinese, with the words appearing on a scene above their heads.
The lead role of Millie was played by Joanne Clifton, who won Strictly Come Dancing in 2013, so I knew she could dance. She had so much energy during Millie’s dance routines, sparks almost seemed to fly off her tap shoes. She also had a lovely singing voice.
A highlight of the show for me was when Millie’s boss (and the guy she has her sights on) Trevor Graydon, played by Graham MaccDuff, believes he has been stood up by Dorothy and gets very drunk. This was hilarious almost slapstick routine, and all credit to him for his performance. The audience certainly found it funny, and he received a well deserved loud round of applause for it.
Thoroughly Modern Millie is on at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, and if you want a rip roaringly good evening out I suggest you get down there pronto!