Still ‘Modern’ after all these years
Jul 31, 2018 02:20PM
● By City Journals Staff
Cast members from Draper Historic Theatre’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie” take a break from rehearsing. (Photo courtesy Todd Taylor/Draper Historic Theatre)
By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]
The 1920s — the era of hot jazz, bathtub gin, rumble seats and raccoon coats — will come roaring back in Draper Historic Theatre’s new production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Audiences will be transported to New York City at the height of the jazz age when society’s rules about women’s careers, fashion and even romantic relationships were being challenged by modern young women known as “flappers.”
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” tells the story of Millie Dillmount who leaves Salina, Kansas in 1922 for the excitement and opportunity of New York City. Her grand plan is to find work as a secretary for a wealthy man and then marry him. Of course, things get complicated. Millie’s landlady is revealed to be the nefarious leader of a kidnapping ring, her boss shows little interest in proposing marriage and Millie instead finds herself falling in love with a young man who claims to be penniless.
The stage musical, which is based on the 1967 movie starring Julie Andrews, won a Tony for Best Musical in 2002. The music for “Thoroughly Modern Millie” was written by Jeanine Tesori with lyrics by Dick Scanlan and the book of the same name by Scanlan and Richard Morris. Composer Tesori is the most prolific and honored female theatrical composer working on Broadway. Her other well-known works include “Shrek the Musical” (2008) and “Fun Home” (2015).
Morgan Hekking, who plays Millie, said, “We need more shows like this with phenomenal female composers and more stories that follow women in musical theater.” She feels that the theme of the show is a timely one, about accepting change in society as well as in your self. “Millie ends up choosing love over everything else,” said Hekking.
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” is Hekking’s first production with Draper Historic Theatre. A graduate of the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts, she is currently majoring in musical theater at Weber State University. “I love the music and the time period of this show,” she said.
Actor Alex Montour also loves the 1920s style of the production as well as its jazzy score. Montour plays the role of Jimmy. “Millie” is his third show with Draper Historic Theatre following this season’s “Tarzan” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Montour has worked for about eight years in stand-up comedy and improv.
“One of my favorite parts of the show is the choreography,” he said. “It looks like a Broadway show, incredibly good and incredibly beautiful.”
The cast has devoted two whole weeks of rehearsal time learning how to tap dance, led by choreographer and seasoned tap dancer Heather Haycock. There are two big tap numbers in the show.
Director Todd Taylor could not say enough about his talented cast. “I have been thoroughly impressed with the talent we have for this show! Almost every actor is a true triple threat in singing, dancing and acting.”
Taylor, who has been an actor for most of his life, has always wanted to direct live theater and “Millie” is one of his favorite musicals. He has been involved with productions at Draper Historic Theatre since performing in “Beauty and the Beast” four years ago. Last summer he directed “Aladdin Jr.”
“My goal in this production is to make it a different show with a different feel to it,” he said. To this end, none of the sets or costumes will be rented. The costumes, including sparkling, sequined flapper dresses, will be designed by Mae Hinton-Godfrey.
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” will be presented by Draper Historic Theatre on Aug. 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 13, 17, 18, 20, 24 and 25 at 7:00 p.m. with a special matinee performance on Aug. 18 at 2:00 p.m. Draper Historic Theatre is located at 12366 South 900 East in Draper. The ticket hotline is 801-572-4144 during performance weeks.