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Thursday 06 April 2017

Review: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Theatre Royal Brighton

The rags-to-riches story which originated with the Julie Andrews film comes to Brighton this week, starring Joanne Clifton off of Strictly'… The storyline is resolutely old-fashioned (though the musical was only produced in 2002, re-written with new songs). 

A small town girl, Millie Dillmount arrives in The Big Apple from small-town Kansas to seek both fortune and love, and becomes a "modern", bobbing her hair, raising her hemline and - sort of - joining the workforce. 

Her lodgings turn out to be the front for a "white slave" setup run by the despicable Mrs Meers (played with some relish here by Lucas Rush in disguise as a Chinese woman). 

While his knowing asides were something of a highlight, it has to be said that a comedy Chinese voice is a little old fashioned, a little bit pantomime, dare I say a rittle bit lacist?

The songs were all performed with glorious rock-solid choreography (involving the whole company, and a lot of tapping). 

Stand out performances from Jenny Fitzpatrick as the singer Muzzy Van Hossmere - an amazing voice, and Katherine Glover as the sweet Dorothy Brown. Graham MacDuff,who delivered some impeccable physical comedy as Trevor Graydon, Millie.s boss, caused hilarity even among the cast at times.

The rest of the ensemble were totally on it, whether involved in scene changing the simple but rather lovely set or filling the stage with detailed movement.

So, to Millie herself - overhearing a few pre-show conversations it was apparent that a lot of audience were there to see Clifton off the back of Strictly (and I was privately dreading a "clap-along" overture which happily didn't happen).

As Millie, Clifton was in turns sweet and goofy, perfect for the role in fact. Her dancing was impeccable, as you"d expect. 

Joanne Clifton talking Thoroughly Modern Millie

Her acting was hardly subtle (but nor is the show) and it was more than made up for by her sheer verve - the book is slender, and the next song will be along in a minute anyway. 

Her performance through the songs was a transformation, genuinely good. Her voice was the real revelation however, from joyful in "Not for the life of me" to poignant and lovely in "Gimme Gimme".

At one point in the show, she says to her sweetheart Jimmy "you didn't know I could dance, did you?"

And we didn't know you could sing, Joanne.

A great big, big-hearted family show!

Thoroughly Modern Millie plays at Theatre Royal Brighton until 8th April 2017.CLICK HERE for more info.

by: Gary Cook




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