THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE
book by Richard Morris & Dick Scanlan new lyrics by Dick Scanlan new music by Jeanine Tesori.
Landor Theatre 70 Landor Road SW9 9PH To 13 September 2015.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7737 7276.
Review: William Russell 26 August.
Send for My Sister Eileen. Good performances can’t breathe life into a dodo.
The reasons for reviving this 2002 Broadway show based on the pretty patchy 1967 musical film starring Julie Andrews escape me. It won lots of Tony Awards at the time but the one good song is the title song, the rest composed for the stage are so feeble they go in one ear but do not have the strength to come out the other, and the plot is fatuous.
The film, thanks to a tremendous performance by Beatrice Lillie as Mrs Meers, the white slaver landlady of a theatrical boarding house who drugs all lodgers who have no family and sends them off to entertain, got over the fact that there is nothing funny about white slavery. The show in this staging does not.
Millie, played with considerable energy by Francesca Lara Gordon, has come to New York to be modern and marry a rich man. She meets Jimmy, an apparently penniless young man, nicely done by Ben Stacey, but prefers her boss Trevor, a neat comic turn by Samuel Harris.
Her room mate, Miss Dorothy, Sarah-Marie Maxwell exuding charm, is an aspiring actress who ends up in a hamper drugged and destined for places abroad. But enough of what passes for plot.
Matthew Iliffe’s direction is efficient, Chipo Kureya as a cabaret star does her best with two ghastly songs to make them sound worthwhile, Alex Codd makes his mark as one of Mrs Meers’ sidekicks, and the cast tap dance as if their lives depended on it.
But as a pastiche of a twenties show it is pretty flaccid stuff and things are not helped by one or two of the performances. Clearly meant to be funny they set one’s teeth on edge they are so awful. The best moment came when someone exiting in a rush knocked over a spot-light.
Millie: Francesca Lara Gordon.
Jimmy: Ben Stacey.
Miss Dorothy Brown: Sarah-Marie Maxwell.
Mrs Meers: Steph Parry.
Mr Trevor Graydon: Samuel Harris.
Muzzy Van Hosmere/Ethel Peas: Chipo Kureya.
Bun Foo: Anthony Starr.
Miss Flannery/Ruth: Christina Meehan.
Ching Ho: Alex Codd.
The Letch/Kenneth: George Hinson.
Gershwin/Dexter/Dance Captain: Thomas Inge.
Alice, Pearl Lady/Dorothy Parker: Charlie Johnson.
Director: Matthew Iliffe.
Designer/Costume: Andrew Riley.
Lighting: Sam Waddington.
Musical Director: Chris Guard.
Choreographer: Sam Spencer-Lane.