Review: Woodseats Musical Theatre Company puts on the glitz in Thoroughly Modern Millie

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Glamorous, glitzy and jam-packed with great song and dance numbers - what’s not to love about Thoroughly Modern Millie?

The story of an ingenue from Kansas lured by the bright lights of New York captures a bygone time of elegance and female emancipation.

It’s a musical of contrasts veering between the wealthy elite hosting cocktail parties in their fabulous mansions and the downtrodden immigrants scraping a living in a sweatshop environment. The show highlights the gay abandon of young girls having a night on the town and the stresses and strains of working under a strict supervisor.

At its heart is Millie, a stenographer who is intent on marrying her wealthy boss - but a few spanners are thrown into the works along the way in the shape of a lovelorn suitor and a pretty actress.

Woodseats Musical Theatre Company recreate the roaring 20s in their production of the lively musical at Dronfield Civic Theatre this week.

Dressed for success with sparkly gowns and drop-waisted dresses befitting the flapper era, this energetic show is played out against a backcloth of colourful skyscrapers.

Scene-shifters are kept busy moving office furniture, a hotel reception desk, mansion trappings, cafe furnishings and a window ledge.

Heading the cast, Sue Claydon gives a heart-warming characterisation of Millie, arriving on stage looking like an overgrown schoolgirl in bunches and sensible dress then transforming into a chic city chick in the blink of an eye. She engages well with cast mates and audience and sings her songs with confidence.

Jamie Cooke plays leading man Jimmy Smith, a ‘paperclip salesman’ with a secret, and a fine job he makes of it, giving an assured performance in acting and singing.

One of the highlights of the show is a dance featuring Richard Carlin in the role of Millie’s boss Trevor, and Becki Stowe, playing actress Dorothy, which brought the house down at the opening performance last night (Wednesday, June 18). They play the smitten couple to a tee as well as putting heart and soul into some of the best-sung songs in the show.

Danielle Smith also gives a belting performance as the golden-voiced socialite Muzzy and her awesome singing is perfect for the jazz era in which the show is set.

Marilyn Barker in the role of dodgy Mrs Meers, whose hotel is a front for the white slave trade, gives many a professional actress a run for their money with an outstanding performing. Her deliver of the immortal line”Sad to be all alone in the world” in faux Chinese accent is priceless.

She’s aided and abetted by Dan Storey and Adam Walker as laundry workers Ching Ho and Bun Foo who speak in Chinese, with translations shown on a TV screen at the side of the stage. The translations in Act One didn’t always tally with their delivery at the performance I saw but I’m sure these were just first-night teething troubles.

Thoroughly Modern Millie is directed by Mary Newey with musical direction by Nicolas Rose and choreography by Chesterfield College student Lily Abram and Amber Parry.

The production continues its run tonight, tomorrow and Saturday, June 21, at 7.30pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday at 2pm. Tickets £9 and £7, contact 01246 290499 or 0114 2468242 or tickets@woodseatsmtc.co.uk

GAY BOLTON