It's official — Sheryl Lee Ralph is Muzzy in Broadway's Thoroughly Modern Millie, according to a spokesman for the upcoming musical comedy.
Ralph, best known for her Tony Award-nominated turn as Deena Jones in Dreamgirls, takes the role of a jazzy socialite originally created by Tonya Pinkins in its tryout at the La Jolla Playhouse. Thoroughly Modern Millie, inspired by the film of the same name and not seen on stage before, begins previews March 19, 2002 at the Marquis Theatre. Opening night is April 18.
After Dreamgirls, Ralph went on to star in TV's "George," "Designing Women" and "Moesha." She produces Divas: Simply Singing concerts every year for the benefit of AIDS charities and has written the screenplays to the short film "Secrets" and "Red Rum & Coke."
Harriet Harris, best known as Dr. Frasier Crane's agent on TV's "Frasier," will play the evil white-slave-trading Manhattan landlord Mrs. Meers in Millie. Harris played Meers in its original La Jolla Playhouse engagement for the final week of performances, replacing Pat Carroll who originated the musical's role. Before appearing in the recent Broadway revival of The Man Who Came to Dinner, Harris performed in New York in Jeffrey, The Crucible, Man and Superman and Hamlet.
Playing Meers' Chinese henchmen are Frances Jue as Bun Foo and Ken Lewng as the love-struck bellboy Ching Ho. Jue starred in the national tour of M. Butterfly.
Sutton Foster was already announced as Millie, the "thoroughly modern" flapper girl at the heart of the new musical with updated material by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan. Joining her are Gavin Creel as Millie's love interest, Jimmy, and Angela Christian as Miss Dorothy. Bells Are Ringing's Marc Kudisch repeats his La Jolla Playhouse role as Trevor Graydon, the other man with whom Millie falls in love.
Kudisch's Broadway credits include The Wild Party, The Scarlet Pimpernel, High Society and Beauty and the Beast. Creel most recently appeared in the Encores! Hair and has performed the Eric Stoltz role in readings of the musical Mask. He also toured the U.S. and Canada as Nick Piazza in Fame: The Musical. Christian made her Broadway debut as Lily in James Joyce's The Dead.
Thoroughly Modern Millie, originally a 1967 Julie Andrews film, has its (Academy Award-nominated) title song already written — by Jimmy van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, no less. In the jazzy song, Millie encourages the audience to "check your personality" and introduces them to her new home where "sex and booze/jazz and blues/we don't know what to choose/that's how we live in Manhattan."
Otherwise, the show is a new construction with new songs by composer Jeanine Tesori and lyricist/co-librettist author Dick Scanlan. New songs include "Gimme, Gimme" and "Forget About the Boy."
The movie, "Thoroughly Modern Millie," was directed by George Roy Hill. The picture, a 1920s spoof, starred Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore, Beatrice Lillie, John Gavin, James Fox, Carol Channing, Jack Soo and Pat Morita.
Two of the film's comic pastiche songs ("Jimmy" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie"), in the style of The Boyfriend, are being used in the stage version, with new tunes by composer Tesori (Violet and Lincoln Center Theatre's Twelfth Night) and lyricist Scanlan.
The libretto is by Richard Morris and Scanlan, based on Morris' original story and screenplay. Screenwriter Morris died in 1996 after completing work on the script with Scanlan.