Thursday, 10 September 2015

REVIEW: Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Landor Theatre

Sweeping audiences back to the 1920’s, Thoroughly Modern Millie is filled with sharp choreography, fantastic songs and a cast who knows how to have fun with it.

Millie Dillmount (Francesca Lara Gordon) has arrived in New York in search of a new life for herself. It is 1922 when jazz was popular; women were beginning to join the workforce and the rules of social behaviour were changed forever.

Along the way to discovering New York in the hopes of meeting her future husband, Millie has a number of different adventures that makes for a hilarious time for the audience.

Francesca Lara Gordon as Millie is feisty and full of spirit but with just enough of vulnerability thrown in to make her likeable for the audience – she really is the modern woman. Her vocals throughout numbers such as ‘Forget About the Boy’ and ‘Gimme Gimme’ are impressive and showcase her talents as a performer well.

But there are plenty of other standout performances to enjoy as well. Such as Christina Meehan’s performances as the fierce Miss Peg Flannery and Ruth – showing great comedy timing throughout and Steph Parry’s performance as Mrs Meers was hilarious even if it was slightly over the top at times. Meanwhile, Ben Stacey as Jimmy was elegant and charming throughout, complementing Gordon’s spirited Millie well.

The choreography by Sam Spencer Lane was particularly impressive, really evoking the feeling of being in the 1920’s – particularly during ‘The Nuttycracker
Suite’ and ‘The Speed Test’, both of which required highly energetic and enthusiastic performances and delivered on both counts.

Matthew Iliffe’s version of Thoroughly Modern Millie is a creative and imaginative production that really captures the excitement and mood that the 1920’s brought with it – particularly for women such as the scene where Millie and her friends go drinking and end up getting arrested. The audience really begins to get a sense of how exciting the 1920’s were for women and how it gave them a sense of freedom that they had never experienced before.

Every element of the production is done with enthusiasm, including the performances by the band – which can overpower the vocals in some places such as during ‘Only in New York’.

The production moves at a swift pace that it can be difficult to get a sense of
what the characters are going through at times and what is happening in places – coming across as slightly too chaotic. As the production reaches the end it feels slightly abrupt and no real sense of a build up.

However, this doesn’t really affect the wonderfully slick and polished production as a whole and if you are a musical fan you will thoroughly enjoy this adaptation. It is refreshing to see a show that is filled with so much joy and enthusiasm from beginning to end.

Thoroughly Modern Millie is a fast, sassy and sharp production with memorable performances from the entire cast and argues that this is a musical that deserves to be seen on stage more regularly.

Review by Emma Clarendon


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