Fringe theatre director Matthew Iliffe brings 1920s New York to Clapham with his cheery production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Based on the 1967 film starring a doe-eyed Julie Andrews, this snazzy musical captured the imaginations of American theatregoers and scooped up six Tony Awards after its run on Broadway.
Millie’s stint at London’s Shaftesbury theatre in 2003 was less successful, attracting a rather lukewarm reception. By relocating to the Landor Theatre – a small venue unobtrusively tucked away at the back of a pub – Iliffe is forced to downscale, which somewhat restricts this otherwise enjoyable production.
Thoroughly Modern Millie: the musical
Kansas-born Millie Dillmount is as modern as they come. Propelled by the life lessons she imbibed from the pages of Vogue, she heads to New York in search of a husband who, instead of loving her, will shower her with trinkets from Saks.
Armed with flappers’ bobs and dresses dripping with tassels, Millie and her friends defy their humble means and Prohibition laws by indulging in bouts of hedonistic pleasure. But our heroine's resolution to marry well waver when she falls for down-on-his-luck Jimmy and wrestles over whether to settle down with him or to continue pursuing her wealthy boss. Brimming with glitz and glamour, Millie is a light and fun musical comedy.
Fringe theatre musical, London 2015
With triple-figure West End prices, live musicals are becoming a luxury and it's pleasing to still find quality musical theatre at fringe prices. But, inevitably, a smaller budget means creative compromise. The show has been scaled down: instead of the original 25 actors, this revival has a cast of 12, playing multiple roles to fast-paced, chaotic effect. Occasionally the comedy felt heavy-handed, especially the exaggerated cultural stereotypes of Mrs Meers as she pretends to be Chinese.
Though the razzmatazz of 1920s New York is sometimes claustrophobic in the small pub theatre, the choreography is slick. The dance sequences – set to musical director Chris Guard’s syncopated jazz rhythms – are remarkable. The tightly choreographed Forget about the boy tap dance is a stirring display of female solidarity, while the Charleston performed at the sultrily lit speakeasy is equally captivating
The far-fetched mayhem of the plot and the glamour of 1920s New York are brought to life with verve and Thoroughly Modern Millie is a feel-good, sunny musical that roars as loud as the 20s.
|What||Thoroughly Modern Millie, Landor Theatre|
|Where||Landor Theatre, 70 Landor Road , SW9 9PH | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Clapham North (underground)|
28 Aug 15 – 13 Sep 15, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£18 - £22|
|Website||Click here to book via the Landor Theatre|