Sunday, March 17, 2013

Maltz Jupiter Theatre: Throroughly Modern Millie (reviews)

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre opened its production of Thoroughly Modern Millie on March 5, 2013.
A high-spirited musical romp that has all of New York dancing the Charleston, Thoroughly Modern Millie tells the story of a small-town girl who travels to New York City to marry for money instead of love. Come relive the roaring 1920s in this Tony Award®-winning musical featuring jazz, thunderous tap dancing, frisky flappers and dashing leading men!
Mark S. Hoebee directed a cast that included Laurie Veldheer, Ashley Kate Adams, Brenda Braxton, Jeff Kready, Burke Moses, Lenora Nemetz,  and Amy Van Norstrand.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Thoroughly Modern Millie is just what it wants to be: a silly romp so frothy you’d think you just stepped into a bubble bath. Make that bathtub gin.
Mark S. Hoebee, producing artistic director at the Paper Mill in New Jersey, guides the vivacious cast in this spoof of contrived 1920s musicals – masking the fact that a lot of skilled hands and considerable resources have been invested in this highly polished product.
Veldheer... exudes Millie’s cross of shaky self-confidence and appealing vulnerability reminiscent of Rachel McAdams. Besides being a full-throated singer and fine dancer, the petite blue-eyed Veldheer has the charisma needed to hold her own alone on stage for wistful solos... This is the role that made the phenomenal Sutton Foster a from-the-chorus-to-overnight-star. While it might not catapult Veldheer as high, anyone who sees her work here will remember her for a long time to come.
Moses creates a stuffed shirt Brylcreem-ed Graydon who pulls back just this side of being a buffoon. With an arched eyebrow or a well-timed double take, Moses somehow takes Graydon over the top without chewing the scenery...
The mezzo-voiced Braxton is adequate as an actress in the book scenes. But as a singer-dancer, she sublimely combines sultriness and ebullience in her big numbers...
Nemetz has also been given a license to mug as the intentionally stereotyped Asian villainess (in fact, Meers is a former Occidental chorine in disguise). But this time, the scenery chewing – while expertly done – wears out its welcome pretty quickly. Still, she has the musical comedy chops to belt out her vaudevillian “They Don’t Know”...
Kready is credible whether showing off to Millie with his nickel-edged Runyonese or privately crooning lovesick ballads. Adams has a gorgeous soprano that she lets loose in the hilarious Nelson Eddy-Jeannette McDonald number with Moses, “I’m Falling In Love With Someone.”
Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach Artspaper:
...if you yearn for the good old days when musicals made little sense and their cartoonish plots were little more than excuses to get from one production number to the next, then, boy, has the Maltz Jupiter Theatre got a show for you.

It is Thoroughly Modern Millie, based on the Julie Andrews-Mary Tyler Moore movie from the ’60s. That was a carefree celebration of the flapper era influenced by the homage musical The Boy Friend, the show that first brought Andrews to our shores in 1954.
In the title role here, the Maltz has its own star-in-the-making... Veldheer is perfectly cast, having a belter’s singing voice, a wicked way with a Charleston and a charm that is catnip to the male characters and most of the audience.
Burke Moses... has a firm grasp of the ridiculous... things turn truly nutty when we meet Mrs. Meers.... a shameless, anything-for-a-laugh Lenora Nemetz.
Mark S. Hoebee, producing artistic director of New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse, stages the show with efficiency, but takes a back seat to choreographer Denis Jones, a Carbonell winner for the Maltz’s take on The Boy Friend few seasons ago. Helen Gregory leads a swinging hot band and Michael Schweikardt contributes a stylish set design dominated by a swank New York skyline.
Thoroughly Modern Millie plays at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through March 24, 2013.

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