It may be called “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” but the heart of the musical is a good old-fashioned boy-meets-girl love story.
The production, directed and choreographed by Kirby Ward, is the second show in Ogunquit Playhouse’s 81st anniversary season.
And, the playhouse has made it memorable with toe-tapping songs, infectious choreography and scene-stealing performances. Sally Struthers returns to the Ogunquit stage, this time in the villainous role of Mrs. Meers.
The part is well suited for Struthers, allowing her to play up her trademark comic flair with over-the-top facial expressions, a ridiculous Chinese accent and a healthy dose of ad-lib.
The audience reveled in Struthers’ antics Friday night, laughing and applauding whenever she graced the stage.
“They Don’t Know” was an absolute riot. But Struthers wasn’t the only scene-stealer.
Burke Moses and Jessica Sheridan gave her a run for the title as Mr. Trevor Graydon and Miss Flannery, respectively.
Sheridan was a sight to see tapping with Millie (Becky Gulsvig) and the typists in “Forget About the Boy,” and Moses took love at first sight to all new comic heights as his character ludicrously mooned over Miss Dorothy Brown (Julie Kavanagh) in the memorable duet, “Falling in Love.”
Christopher Shin (Ching Ho) and Carl Hsu (Bun Foo) added to the fun as Mrs. Meers’ reluctant henchmen.
They not only provided comic fodder for Struthers, but also served as a source of entertainment, reprising “Not For the Life of Me” in Chinese, with English subtitles projected on a screen above the stage.
There were other standout performances, as well. Terry Burrell was a sassy songstress in the role of Muzzy Van Hossmere, singing “Only in New York” and “Long as I’m Here With You.”
And, Kavanagh was the quintessential ditzy heiress, with a resonating high soprano.
As a whole, the 21-member cast was an awe-inspiring delight to watch as they danced through the 20-song musical. Christopher Lengerich and Bryan Thomas Hunt were a particular marvel as speed tappers.
Of course, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” wouldn’t be the love-conquers-all story that it is without Millie Dillmount and Jimmy Smith (Matt Lutz).
Gulsvig was a spitfire from the moment she walked onto stage as the small-town girl from Kansas.
She was a triple threat throughout, delivering an energetic performance, powerful vocals and spot-on dance steps.
Her vocals particularly shined on “Jimmy.”
Lutz complemented as the spirited playboy who couldn’t help falling for Millie.
The duet “I Turned the Corner” beautifully showcased the pair’s vocals and charisma.
Ogunquit Playhouse’s rendition of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is an audio and visual spectacular that stimulates the senses with dazzling costumes, fun characters, catchy songs and sensational choreography that’s sure to put rhythm in your feet.
Don’t be surprised if you leave the performance doing a little side shuffle or a few tap dance steps of your own.
Given the infectious nature of the production, you might not be able to resist the urge.
April Boyle is a free-lance writer from Casco. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.