Amazing Millie is a song and dance gem

PUBLISHED: 10:47 21 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:59 18 June 2010

SIDMOUTH Arts Club Operatic Society are currently transporting audiences at the Manor Pavilion Theatre back to the roaring 1920s with their sparkling smash hit Thoroughly Modern Millie. As the highly talented and resplendently costumed company, with a wea

SIDMOUTH Arts Club Operatic Society are currently transporting audiences at the Manor Pavilion Theatre back to the roaring 1920s with their sparkling smash hit Thoroughly Modern Millie.

As the highly talented and resplendently costumed company, with a wealth of youth and experience, performed the title song with great gusto and vitality, it was obvious we were in for a very special evening. There were fantastic flapper girls, good looking men in suits and an electrifying atmosphere. Ravishing Rebecca Green made a marvellous Millie Dillmont, the heroine who came to New York to seek a fortune. She wowed us with her dancing, singing and acting, which were all top notch, as we followed her adventures at the Priscilla Hotel, at work, at social events and even in jail.

Stunning Samantha Morris made a delicious Dorothy Brown, a sugar sweet stagestruck young actress who became Millie's best friend. These two made a captivating combination as they thrilled us with their scintillating singing and dancing.

Tom Beesley gave a fine performance as handsome hero Jimmy Green, the slightly laid back, fun loving paper clip salesman who Millie literally bumped into. He brought out the frustration of Millie waiting to fall in love with her boss rather than follow her heart.

A masterly performance came from Alec Fellows-Bennett as Millie's pompous but wealthy boss Trevor Graydon. He extracted maximum humour from the role and his falling in love scene with Dorothy was priceless as they convincingly combined fun and romance.

Karen Colson, Helkenka Kaminski, Evelyn O'Malley, Jessica-Rose Morris, Helen Sadler, Sandra Cole and Claire Donnelly made delightful flapper girl dancers and showed real versatility as they joined Lameze Stout and Lesley Morris as formally dressed nifty 'speed typists' with mobile desks in Mr Graydon's office.

Becca Simmins made a super zany office manager, Miss Flannery, severe and bossy but also a terrific tapper! Donna Heard was in her element as Muzzy van Hossmere. She showed real star quality as the wealthy madcap Manhattan cabaret singer with a zest for life and a glamorous penthouse.

Endearing character performances came from Selwyn Kussman and Marc Colson as Chinese brothers Ching Ho and Bun Foo, employed by hotel proprietor Mrs Meers to kidnap orphaned women checking in at the hotel. They spoke Chinese with English subtitles slashed on a screen and caused much mirth. Their rendering of Muquin (My Mammy) was unforgettable. The talented Imogen Hudson-Clayton gave a spirited performance as Mrs Meers, mastermind of a white slavery ring but, in my opinion, was far too young to play the dragon lady.

The whole company contributed to this outstanding show with many good cameo performances, including Lorna Ramsden as Dorothy Parker, whose dress was ruined by Millie; Mark Ollier, Geoffrey Ward, Robert Marshall and Nick Parrish as Muzzy's boys, Mathilde by Elizabeth Frith-Powell and Chris Hedges as the Policeman.

Charismatic choreographer Vicky Salter and skilful and experienced director John Heard ensured the dancing, movement and acting was of a very high standard. John Amery made a top class but unobtrusive musical director, getting the best out of the singers and a first class orchestra which included popular rehearsal pianist Tina Paveley. Impressive costume co-ordination by Geoff Ward, assisted by Gill Baker, efficient stage management by Eddie Simmins and his team and effective lighting by Light Touch Design all helped to make this production of Thoroughly Modern Millie a real gem.

Roger Simmonds


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