Bridgeport Theatre Company's 'Thoroughly Modern Millie' is the best performance by a community theatre I've seen this year. Let's just get that out of the way first. It's very rare to see a performance where talent, energy and chemistry combine in such an infectious way, it's impossible for the audience not to acknowledge that they have seen something truly spectacular.
Taking place in New York City in 1922, Thoroughly Modern Millie tells the story of young Millie Dillmount, who has just moved to the city in search of a new life for herself. It's a New York full of intrigue and jazz - a time when women were entering the workforce and the rules of love and social behavior were changing forever. Based on the popular movie, the stage version of Thoroughly Modern Millie includes a full score of new songs and bright dance numbers.
Filled with frisky flappers, dashing leading men and a dragon-lady of a villainess audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie is a perfectly constructed evening of madcap merriment.
Playing the title character and really setting the tone for the entire show is Laura Piacenza, who masters every note, every scene and every nuance of Millie. This a more complex role than you would assume and Piacenza delivers on those complexities perfectly. It is a tour-de-force performance.
Eric Regan also delivers a fine performance as Jimmy, while not nearly as high octane as Piacenza, Regan does give Jimmy a sweet charm which makes him hard to root against. Chelsea Dacey is also perfectly cast as Miss Dorothy and her scenes with the equally perfectly cast, Marc Christopher Improta as Trevor Graydon, are another highlight of this production.
Laurn Linn's Mrs Meers is delightfully over-the-top and her partners in crime played by Mark Andrew Garner and Jonathan David are a hoot and a half. Saige Bryan's portrayal of the fading star Muzzy Van Hossmere was near perfect as well.
With a show like this, you need a strong ensemble, and this production features one of the strongest I've seen in a while. They include: Angela Jackson, Lisa DeAngelis, Emma LaPlace, Kalle Meehan, Claire Regan, Avery Bebon, Nicole Monahan, Caitlin Roberts, Elisa Pasqua, Olivia Rivera, Juliana Rivera, Josh Cardozo and Lindsay McGrath.
Director Christy McIntosh's staging shows innovation and craftiness while Clay Zambo's music direction is right on the money. Choreographers Emily Frangipane and Eli Newsom bring some very tight choreography to the show and definitely put their actors through their paces.
Despite its title, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is an old fashioned musical where the heroes win, the villains lose, and true love prevails. If you are looking for an entertaining night of song, dance, and comedy, this will definitely fulfill that desire.
The show runs thru May 9th. For tickets and info, visit bridgeporttheatre.org