Thoroughly Modern Millie is wonderfully outrageous, a 1922 madcap musical that will leave you laughing and loving every minute of it!

Photo Credit: Linda Carter

Tielle Baker and Samantha Rose Cardenas  perform
as Miss Dorothy Brown and Thoroughly Modern “Millie”!

Thoroughly Modern Millie will provide an evening of absolutely outrageously silly and fun-filled entertainment at the Contra Costa Musical Theater Company The universal pictures movie version starring Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Channing, Beatrice Lily, James Fox and John Gavin was a huge success financially as it became the ninth highest grossing film of 1967. Then in 2000 it was adapted for the stage under the astute guidance of Dick Scanlon and Richard Morris, with new lyrics and music co-created by Jeanine Tesori and Scanlon.

Basic storyline follows an attractive young lady from Kansas City, Millie (Samantha Rose Cardenas), who arrives in New York City in 1922 to find work as a stenographer, with the hope to meet a wealthy businessman and marry him. Of course, the first day she arrives she is gob smacked by the immensity of the vision before her with the throngs of people rushing about her in every direction with purpose and with excitement, which further solidifies her belief that everyone seems successful. Now fully confident in her decision to come to the big city, she tears up the emergency return ticket she brought from home. However, before the first day concludes, she is accosted by the less fortunate, who steal her purse, her luggage, and much like Cinderella, even loses one of her shoes. She cries out to the passing humanity for help and is basically ignored. However, one kind passing soul informs her that she may find temporary refuge at the Priscilla boardinghouse, inhabited mostly by starry-eyed dancers and actors all desperately seeking work. In finding refuge at the Priscilla, she finds many supportive friends, including a very attractive and naïve Miss Dorothy Brown, (Tielle Baker). Most important, she receives a thought-provoking insight from one of the ladies who points out that the smart thing to do is to read the social and gossip news to find potential wealthy bachelors, ferret out where they work, and seek employment under them and thereby shortening her path to marriage. With her new action plan, she finds a stenography job with the Sincere Trust and Insurance Company and her boss, Trevor Graydon (Joshua Marx), is handsome, makes very good money, is completely self-absorbed, but eligible enough to become her all-out marriage objective. While employing her superior skills as a stenographer, she happens to meet a young paperclip salesman, Jimmy Smith (Kamren Mahaney), whom she is instantly attracted to. However, she rejects his admiration for her, deciding that to become more involved with the young man just because he’s kind, cute, and lovable, does not match with her ultimate goals.

Typical of these types of silly, but fun-filled musicals, there are several subplots, including an array of characters, some with sinister secrets. There is even a brief stint in jail by Millie and friends, resulting from being arrested in a raid on a speakeasy. But the real kicker is the discovery that the diabolical Priscilla boardinghouse house-mother, Mrs. Meers (Laurie Strawn) is secretly involved in the white slave trade, waylaying her less fortunate tenants (who are without family or close friends), and selling them to a Chinese syndicate.

The acting, dancing, and singing is quite excellent by all participants, with special kudos deservedly for lead actors, including Samantha Rose Cardenas, Kamren Mahaney, Joshua Marx, Lauri Strawn, Melinda Meeng (Mrs. Muzzy Van Hossmere), Juan Castro (Ching Ho), Faustino Cadiz (Bun Foo) Jarusha Ariel (Gloria), and Tielle Baker, who almost stole the show as Miss Dorothy Brown! The orchestra under the direction of Daniel Feyer was outstanding.

I will never intentionally miss a production of the Contra Costa Musical Theater, and have not done so for many, many years, as they are perfectionists, long on talents, with brilliant staff and management who find the right directors, set builders, costumers lighting technicians, etc., who make every production an absolute joy to attend. Director, Derek Travis Collard, Choreographer, Staci Arriaga, scenic designer Kelly James Tighe (who secured the scenery built by Rooster Productions), Costumer Liz Martin and choreographer Staci Arriaga, all hit exceptionally high marks for this delightful production.

Thoroughly Modern Millie continues Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM with select performances on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 PM. Tickets range in price from $49-$59 each with special pricing for seniors and students. Tickets may be secured by calling 943-7469 or by going to the web page, www.ccmt.org. This production is in the Hofmann Theatre in the Lesher Center for the Arts at 1601 Civic Dr., in Walnut Creek.

About the Author

Charles JarrettTheater reviewer for the Rossmoor News for 29 years, a professional theatrical photographer (Megaline Photographic Design - Alamo, CA) and news paper reporter for 15 years, currently with the Orinda News as a staff photographer and reporter.View all posts by Charles Jarrett →