June 13, 2013

Summer theater: Silly 'Millie'

A goofy musical comedy with a big heart, the Tony Award-winning 'Thoroughly Modern Millie' opens at Ogunquit.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Burke Moses spent 18 months in Toronto playing Capt. von Trapp in a production of “The Sound of Music.” A nice role, but a bit straight and serious.

click image to enlarge

"If you are looking for song, dance, frolic and fun, then "Thoroughly Modern Millie" is right up your alley," says actor Burke Moses, who plays the role of Trevor Graydon, "a complete idiot in every way."

Courtesy photo

IF YOU GO

"THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE"

WHEN: Opens Thursday. Through July 6.

WHERE: Ogunquit Playhouse, 10 Main St.

HOW MUCH: $39 to $78

INFO: 646-5511; ogunquitplayhouse.org.

When Ogunquit Playhouse offered him the much lighter role of Trevor Graydon in its new production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” Moses paused for maybe a second before accepting the gig.

“I was looking for something really silly to do, and along came Trevor Graydon. He’s a complete idiot in every way. He’s just a joy, because he doesn’t exactly mine the depths of drama,” said Moses, who originated the role of Gaston in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway in 1994.

Moses loves “Millie” because it’s so silly. “If you are looking for Beckett or Williams, this would not be your cup of tea,” he said. “But if you are looking for song, dance, frolic and fun, then ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ is right up your alley.”

The show opens Thursday and is on stage through July 6. It also stars Becky Gulsvig and Sally Struthers, both of whom have long histories with Ogunquit. Struthers has performed there each summer for the past decade, while Gulsvig will be making her third appearance with the musical theater.

The play is about small-town girl Millie Dillmount, played by Gulsvig, who comes east to New York City in 1922. Her flapper lifestyle leads to a series of misadventures when she checks into a hotel owned by the evil Mrs. Meers, played by Struthers.

Based on the 1967 film, “Millie” is a musical comedy with a great track record. It opened on Broad-way in 2002, and won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. There’s lots of song and dance in the old-school Broadway tradition.

The title role is hardly a stretch for Gulsvig, who came east from Minnesota when she was 17 to pursue a life in theater. She is 30 now, and has made her life and career in New York. When she arrived in Manhattan, she moved into a residence for girls and women, not unlike the one in the musical – although her real-life landlord wasn’t an evil-minded woman.

“But I can certainly relate,” she said. “We all have a goal of what we think our life should be, and lo and behold, real life happens. It’s a realistic story, even though campy and funny. It has a lot of truth.”

Gulsvig loves the part, because Millie is a fun-loving and deep-down good person.

“She is so spunky, and there’s a great arc throughout the show. She goes through a great variety of emotions and feelings and circumstances,” she said. “And the costumes are gorgeous. It’s like playing dress-up.”

Kirby Ward, director and choreographer, described the show as “a good, old-fashioned, fun comedy. It’s a silly, wacky show, and I’m trying to inject some heart into it and get the story to touch the audience.”

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or: bkeyes@mainetoday.com. Twitter: pphbkeyes.  

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