In a day when almost nothing seems shocking, it can be hard to believe that there was once a time when a women with short hair and a knee-length skirt would send gasps across America. But that’s exactly the world Millie Dillmount grew up in, and the one she takes audiences to in El Dorado Musical Theatre’s production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” a high-spirited Broadway musical that will leave kids of all ages laughing and wanting more.
The story starts out on the fast-paced streets of New York. The year is 1922, and Millie has just arrived from her home state of Kansas —without a job, without a place to stay, without a plan. The only thing she has is determination and her dream of starting a new, “modern” life in this land of opportunity.
Millie soon realizes she has a lot to learn. Within minutes of her arrival, she is robbed and loses a shoe. It is only thanks to the kindness of a stranger who mocks her naivety, a dashing young Casanova named Jimmy Smith, that she makes it off the street still in possession of her suitcase and checks into a nearby women’s hotel. What Millie and Jimmy don’t know, however, is that the owner of the hotel is the leader of a white slavery ring to Southeast Asia. While Millie is looking for a job and planning to take control of her love life by marrying her boss, “whoever he may be,” this dragon lady is making some very different plans.
Based on the popular 1967 movie, the stage version of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” includes wonderful songs and rousing dance numbers. Debbie Wilson, EDMT’s artistic director, directs and choreographs the fast-paced show, which won six Tony Awards including Best Musical in 2002. Filled with frisky flappers, dashing leading men and a dragon-lady of a villainess, the show features 37 local performers ages 12 to 20.
Julia Adams, who plays Millie, is a senior at Oak Ridge High School. She’s been acting and singing since she was 6 and has performed in more than 30 EDMT productions, and also with Sacramento Music Circus and Folsom’s Sutter Street Theatre. Adams plans to study musical theater in college and hopes to go to Broadway someday. She says she likes playing Millie because she relates to her. “Millie is independent and determined,” Adams explained. “She has a dream and she goes after it, and she speaks her mind. That’s a big deal, especially in this time period.”
Collins, who plays Jimmy, is a senior at Charter University Prep and said acting has really improved his self-confidence. “I used to be really shy. The first time I got on stage I was really nervous. The confidence that I’ve gained here is huge,” he said. “It’s really made me a different person and taught me about life. We’re always performing, in a sense; it’s just that the audience is different. I love that, when you perform, you have the chance to bring light to other people’s lives.”
Millie Dillmount (Julia Adams), Jimmy Smith (Zack Collins), Miss Dorothy Brown (Kelly Maur) Trevor Graydon (Andrew Wilson), Mrs. Meers (Anjie Rose Wilson), Muzzy Van Hossmere (Olivia Kaufmann), Ching Ho (Zach Wilson), Bun Foo (Dylan Gray), Miss Flannery ( Jillian Curry), Ruth (Kiersten Hunter), Gloria (Nicole Sevey), Alice (Madison Sykes), Rita (Samantha Teter), Lucille (Kylie Joerger), Cora (Allie Frew), Ethel Peas (Claire Soulier), Dorothy Parker (Bethany Wheat), The Pearl Lady (Samantha Teter), The Letch (CJ Knoble), Officer (Stephen Knoble), George Gershwin (David Bryant), Kenneth (Quintin Casl), Mathilde (Emily Martorana), Rodney (Connor Ricketts), Daphne (Alexis Vasile), Dexter (Brandon Karrer), New Modern (Lexie Loos); People of NYC, Moderns, Party Guests, Nightclub Performers, Speak Easy Patrons, Waiters, Tappers, etc.: Abigail Jacobstein, Alexis Vasile, Allie Frew, Avery Speel, Bethany Wheat, Brandon Karrer, CJ Knoble, Claire Soulier, Clara Whetstone, Connor Ricketts, David Bryant, Drew Matthews, Emily Martorana, Emily Ziegler, Hannah Davis, Jillian Curry, Jordan Soto, Justin Harvey, Kelsey Fairchild, Kiersten Hunter, Kylie Joerger, Lexie Loos, Lindsay Alhady, Madison Sykes, Nicole Sevey, Quintin Casl, Samantha Teter, Selma Gebhardt, Stephen Knoble.
EDMT’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie” comes to the Harris Center for the Arts, 10 College Parkway in Folsom, Feb. 14-23. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday. Ticket prices range from $18 to $36. For more information or to purchase tickets call (916) 608-6888, visit harriscenter.net or stop by the box office open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and two hours prior to every performance. Group discounts are available to groups of more than 10.