June 1, 2016
Closing out a spectacular 9th season at Long Island’s John W. Engeman Theatre is a first-rate incarnation of the Tony winning musical Thoroughly Modern Millie. Is this show done consistently? Perhaps. But let me tell you everything about this production, running through July 10th, is absolutely top-notch and certainly a must-see for this season.
The zany tale, set in the roaring 1920’s, gives us a peek into the lives of “moderns” – now more popularly known as flappers – living in a jazz filled New York City when women began bobbing their hair, entering the workforce, and just completely throwing all the rules out the window. Running through July 10th at the gorgeous Northport venue, the Broadway caliber company is superbly directed by Engeman Theatre vet Drew Humphrey.
Expertly leading Mr. Humphrey’s cast is Tessa Grady (Broadway: Annie, Dames At Sea, et.al) who exquisitely portrays Millie Dillmount, the role portrayed by Julie Andrews in the 1967 movie. Indeed a favorite among the enthusiastic audience is her rendition of “Not For The Life Of Me” in Act I and “Gimme, Gimme” in Act II. A strong, fabulous voice and a lot of sass make Ms. Grady a natural for the role.
Speaking of the movie incarnation, with some differences, of course, the musical stays close to Ms. Andrew’s movie. The evil Ms. Meers, portrayed by Michele Ragusa, kidnaps the orphans that register at her hotel and she has her two sidekicks from Hong Kong. Ms. Ragusa puts a brilliant comedic spin on the role that leaves everyone in absolute stiches. In addition, Nicole Powell (Broadway: Ragtime revival, Hairspray) gives a thrilling diva performance as Muzzy Van Hossmere, portrayed by Carol Channing in the movie version.
I really could go on and on about the entire company; they are all truly remarkable.
Mr. Humphrey’s creative team is also stellar. He choreographs with Dena DiGiacinto on the wonderful performances. The rousing tap dance numbers are especially well received. And Jon Collins’ stunning set is enhanced beautifully Cory Pattack’s spot-on lighting and Kurt Alger’s dazzling costumes. And naturally it is always wonderful to see a fantastic live orchestra under the direction of Musical Director James Olmstead.
And so, Thoroughly Modern Millie is definitely another hit for the Engeman Theatre. I dare say that if you have seen this before, this production could breathe new life into it for you; the Engeman has a habit of doing that.
Thoroughly Modern Millie is presented by the John W. Engeman Theatre through July 10th.
Directed by DREW HUMPHREY, Choreography by DREW HUMPHREY & DENA DIGIACINTO, Musical Direction by JAMES OLMSTEAD, Scenic Design by JON COLLINS, Costume/Hair and Wig Design by KURT ALGER, Lighting Design by CORY PATTAK, Sound Design by CRAIG KAUFFMAN, Casting by GAYLE SEAY & SCOTT WOJCIK of WOJCIK/SEAY CASTING, Props Design by KRISTIE MOSCHETTA, Stage Management by JULIANNE MENASSIAN
Starring TESSA GRADY as Millie Dillmount, DANIEL PLIMPTON as Jimmy Smith, MICHELE RAGUSA as Mrs. Meers, SARAH STEVENS as Miss Dorothy Brown, TIM ROGAN as Trevor Graydon, and NICOLE POWELL as Muzzy Van Hossmere with ANTHONY CHAN, ELISH CONLON, DARIA DEGAETANO, MARIA GARVEY, MORGAN HARRISON, ALICIA HEMANN, CARL HSU, DARRELL T. JOE, RYAN KOERBER, OREN KORENBLUM, KIM MCCLAY, NICK MONALDO, HILLARY PORTER, JOHN SCACCHETTI and MICHAEL VERRE.
For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (631) 261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com