Thoroughly Modern Millie at Goodspeed Opera House

“Welcome to Katz Reviews. This is Ed Katz of Katnip Marketing- marketing consultant by day; theater critic by night- bringing my weekly review segment, Katz Reviews, here for you on WICC 600.

Today’s review takes me to the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. If you haven’t been there yet, it’s a beautiful setting- right on the Connecticut River and only about 50 minutes away from Bridgeport.

In the past five years Goodspeed has given birth to two original musicals that went to Broadway: ‘Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn’ and ‘Amazing Grace’- both terrific shows. And they helped develop ‘Come from Away.’ The theater’s main fare, though, is lavish revivals.

This season, their first revival is the musical comedy ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie,’ which won 6 Tony Awards including Best Musical in 2002 and featured an all-star cast led by Sutton Foster.

The director here is Denis Jones, who choreographed Goodspeed’s ‘Holiday Inn,’ which featured some incredible tap dancing. ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ has some fine dancing but nothing as exciting as ‘Holiday Inn.’

And that might be an apt way to describe this Millie. It’s fine, but not too exciting. Set in the era of the roaring 20’s, Taylor Quick is Millie and she seems a capable actress but never fully won me over as the lead I wanted to care about. Charming Dan DeLuca plays a guy who doesn’t want to fall in love but gets hooked on Millie. Samantha Sturm, as Millie’s best friend, rocks the rafters with her vocals- as does DeLuca. Both are terrific talents.

 Production photos by Diane Sobolewski

Edward Watts, who plays Millie’s boss, looks like a large version of Roger Moore- in his prime- and perfectly projects the air of the detached boss who only values Millie for her efficiency.

The entire supporting cast is terrific. Loretta Ables Sayre, who was nominated for a Tony Award playing Bloody Mary in Broadway’s recent revival of ‘South Pacific,’ again delivers the comic relief; this time as Mrs. Meers, who runs a white slavery ring. Yep, white slavery is played for comic relief. You kinda hafta go along with it- but that makes this show perhaps an odd choice for a revival in 2017.

As usual with a Goodspeed show, the technical aspects are all solid, and the art deco sets are beautiful.

I give ‘Millie’ 3 stars out of 5 because, even with so many aspects they get right, the plot just unravels in the chase to trap Mrs. Meers and the ending is too silly and contrived. But, if that is your taste, Goodspeed does it well.

It runs through July 2nd. For tickets visit Goodspeed dot org.

Catch my reviews right here this time each week and on my Facebook page and website, Katz Reviews dot com.

This is Ed Katz talking theater for WICC 600!”