Newbury Operatic Society - Thoroughly Modem Millie
10th to 14th April 2007.
From the Newbury Weekly News.
Dancing feet brought colour to the stage in a production which required 'zip'
Newbury Operatic Society: Thoroughly Modem Millie, at The Corn Exchange, from Tuesday, April 10 to Saturday, April 14
Even the shyest people start humming 'dee dee dee dee dee dedee de dee' and tapping their feet when Thoroughly Modern Millie is mentioned. Ask them to name another tune from the show, however, and most would be hard-pressed to do so.
The 1920s, in spite of the troubles, was a charismatic time - bobbed hair, flirty skirts, frenzied gaiety - so it's easy to understand why Newbury Operatic Society chose this award-winner. With the talented Sam Spaak directing and experienced Jeannette Maskell in charge of the foot-tapping, everything seemed set fair for a cracker of a show.
However, in spite of some excellent performances from the chorus and principals - and how good it was to see new faces joining established members -there was often a lack of zip and this show, lacking familiar tunes, requires zippiness in spades.
Tonya Walton played Millie, the girl intent on marrying a rich boss, and captured the flapper look and action excellently, her pleasant voice at its best in the softer numbers.
Russell Barrett's rich singing and assured acting enhanced the part of Jimmy Smith who reluctantly falls for Millie, while Rhiannon Garrett, looking absolutely right as Millie's chum, Miss Dorothy, settled well into her role as the evening continued.
Chris Austin was a hit as Millie's boss, Trevor Graydon, a gift of a part for the right person and Chris was that man. Another good performance came from Jacqui Trumper as nightclub singer Mussy Van Hussmere - good belting stuff and well-cast.
A hit with this audience was the Oriental trio comprising Millie's landlady Mrs Meers (Zoe Wells), Bun Foo (Paul Strickland) and Ching Ho (Shaun Blake). The latter two were required to sing and speak in Chinese throughout. Bucketloads of congratulations to them for this and to Zoe for her hilariously evil performance as a white-slave trader.
The Priscilla Girls and Speed Tappists' nifty and accurate dancing feet brought colour and excitement whenever they appeared and the superb playing of Michael Evans' orchestra never lacked the verve which was sometimes missing on stage.
The society's hard work produced an enjoyable evening, but somehow lacked that elusive magic which turns a good show into a sparkler.