A Century Of Sass
‘Millie’ Moves From Small Town To Big City
Posted: February 7, 2013
The lead characters of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” include (from left) senior Maggie Siciliano as “the Pearl Lady,” junior Abe Nouri as “Jimmy Smith,” senior Nancy Carrie Logan as “Millie Dillmount,” senior Sam St. Ours as “Trevor Graydon” and (center) senior Kaelyn Warne as “Mrs. Meers.” Here, they perform during dress rehearsal Feb. 4 at Harrisonburg High School. (Photo by Aimee George / DN-R Features)
Members of the 50-person cast of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” practice a musical number Feb. 4 at Harrisonburg High School. (Photo by Aimee George / DN-R Features)
On Feb. 14, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 17 at 3 p.m., HHS will present the Tony Award-winning musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
A special preview performance will also be held Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Names In Lights
“There’s no big message; it’s just entertainment for the fun of it,” says director Stan Swartz, contrasting the school’s performance of “Les Miserables” last year.
Swartz had concerns about the drastic shift from 19th-century solemnity to 20th-century jazz and sass — a concern that was soon abated.
“I’m thrilled to bits that they are handling the change in style so well, and they’re shining equally in this [performance] as they did in that [one],” he says.
The play follows forward-thinking Millie through her progression from small town to big city.
For senior Nancy Carrie Logan, who plays Millie, the theme is more poignant than flippant.
“I love the show ... it’s my story,” she says, in a red-fringed flapper dress and blunt bob. Logan’s plans after graduation mirror her character, Millie Dillmount: New York City dreams with sights on Broadway.
Though she’s been acting since she was a child, Logan says the intense dancing lessons were challenging. Her fellow cast echoes the sentiment: Learning to tap dance may have pushed the actors in ways unfamiliar, but it didn’t trip them up.
Sam St. Ours, senior, who plays Millie’s boss and chosen suitor Trevor Graydon III, says he appreciates Swartz choosing plays that push their limits.
“Last year, the challenge was vocal ... this year, it’s the first time we’ve ever done a tap dancing show.”
His character allows him to be “over the top and cheesy,” he says, a red lipstick print on his cheek.
Senior Kaelyn Warne, playing the villainous Mrs. Meers, agrees on both counts. While she says “there’s no limit to where you can take [the character],” in terms of outrageously sinister comedy, the big personality comes with one particularly grueling dance number.
Maggie Siciliano may be one of the very few on cast who takes to the dance-intensive play with ease. The senior also teaches at Harrisonburg’s Dance and Company, and, because of her moves, her character is often billed as the “seductress.”
Even for her, it’s a matter of song-and-dance skill: keeping her breath while belting out Broadway show tunes.
Music Director Bethany Houff has watched the cast of nearly 50 lower- and upperclassmen grow.
“It’s a lot of vocal jazz, which is not a style they sing often,” she says, “but they’ve really absorbed it quickly.”
The stage singing, says junior Abe Nouri, is his forte. As Jimmy Smith, paperclip salesman with shmuck-ish tendencies, Nouri embraces the musical numbers. Getting into character, however, sometimes takes work.
“I have to be smoother than I usually am,” he laughs.
“It’s going to be an amazing show,” Logan says. “It’s going to be unlike anything we’ve ever done.”
To purchase tickets online — a new feature for HHS — visit http://www.seatyourself.biz and search for “Harrisonburg” or “Millie.”
For more information, call (540) 578-1041 or visit http://www.hhsmusical.org.
Contact Samantha Cole at 574-6276 or firstname.lastname@example.org