`Thoroughly Modern Millie' cast is dazzling, entertaining


August 17, 2007|By MARY JOHNSON | MARY JOHNSON,Special to The Sun

Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre caps its successful season with a dazzling Thoroughly Modern Millie. The "theater under the stars" can boast a phenomenon on its stage in Hana Thornhill's spectacular Summer Garden debut as Millie Dillmount.

Thornhill does it all: She dances with airy grace and youthful zest, she sings like a Broadway diva, belting bouncy tunes with pizazz and ballads with feeling, and she can emote as well as any leading lady. She also does wonders for every dazzling costume she dons.

The production adds distinction with a strong cast that supports Thornhill and brings extra sparkle to ensemble numbers.

This entertaining show premiered on Broadway in 2002, based on a 1967 film spoofing the 1920s. Flapper Millie Dillmount arrives in New York and promptly tosses away her return ticket to Kansas. She hopes to rely on her stenographic proficiency to land a job and marry her boss.

On her first day in the big city, she meets Jimmy Smith, who directs her to a rooming house. She soon makes more friends there, including the wealthy orphan Miss Dorothy, and at her new job working for Trevor Graydon. But Trevor sees Millie only as an efficient worker, not a potential bride.

Instead, Trevor is smitten by Miss Dorothy, finding love only to lose it when she disappears, the apparent victim of sinister hotel proprietress Mrs. Meers.

This bizarre plot comes alive under the skilled direction of Beth Terranova, who has assembled a skilled cast that includes a fantastic chorus line, fine male dancers, some first-rate singers, deft comedians and actors.

Assisting Terranova is choreographer Christy Stouffer who said at Sunday's performance that she showed the dancers a step only once, and "they immediately did it better than I." Stouffer said that as wonderful as Thornhill is in the leading role, Jamie Miller, who'll play Millie on Saturday and Aug. 31, is equally amazing.

Music director Ken Kimble adds to this polished production by leading his seven musicians in a live orchestral performance.

Veteran song-and-dance man Ronnie Schronce is perfectly cast as fun-loving Jimmy Smith, who eventually becomes Millie's suitor and an agile dance partner. Schronce knows his way around a tune as he proves when delivering "What Do I Need with Love?" and "I Turned the Corner."

ASGT newcomer Sara Patsy, who plays Miss Dorothy, has another fine set of pipes. She sings a hilarious spoof of "I'm Falling in Love with Someone" and "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life" in a duet with Stephen Deininger's Trevor Graydon, who returns to ASGT in another stellar performance.

Another standout is Kaymarie Knapp as Muzzy Van Hossmere, a former cabaret singer who married well. A 2003 Air Force Academy graduate, Knapp sings and moves well and proves how attractive communications officers stationed at Fort Meade can be.

Monica Anselm is delightful as Miss Flannery, supervisor of the steno pool. Melinda Lee Braden is humorously mysterious as Mrs. Meers and provides some laughs with her entourage of Daphne (Josette Dubois), Dexter (Jeff Sprague), Ching Ho (Micah Shockney) and Bun Foo (Brandon Dietrick).

This show runs Thursday through Sunday until Sept. 1. Tomorrow's performance is sold out, but as of this writing, seats remain for other performances. Call 410-268-9212 for reservations.

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