Modern Millie "Junior" Version Tested in PA for Future Licensing

News   Modern Millie "Junior" Version Tested in PA for Future Licensing Music Theatre International is workshopping its kid-friendly version of Thoroughly Modern Millie Aug. 4-6 in Bucks County, PA, for possible future licensing as part of MTI's successful "Junior" series, which targets kid actors.

MTI already handles the stock and amateur licensing for grown-up productions of Millie, the Tony Award-winning musical by Dick Scanlan and Jeanine Tesori. Music Theatre of Wichita is currently producing the complete show, and about 75 other bookings are scheduled for 2007, according to MTI.

The group granted the right to be a test site for Thoroughly Modern Millie JR. is Theatre Arts Center in Doylestown, PA in central Bucks County. Theatre Arts Center is the resident children and family summer performance company at Bristol Riverside Theatre and the new Sellersville Theatre, both professional theatres. Students also perform throughout the year at special events and concerts.

MTI's "Broadway Junior" adapts classic and contemporary musicals into 70-minute editions perfect for middle-school aged performers.

MTI is also working on a "School Edition" version of Millie for older student actors as well.

"This is a test site to see how the JR. version of Millie plays, and will result in the eventual release of the title in the MTI catalog," MTI's Russell Ochocki told Playbill.com. "The first site is used to decide what needs to be added or subtracted before it becomes a licensed show." Co-librettist and lyricist Scanlan is expected to be in attendance in Pennsylvania. Theatre Arts Center was one of the first groups to produce Seussical JR.

Choreography for the Pennsylvania test is by Kevin Duda, musical director is Neal Tracy.

What's the MTI process of going from a standard show to a "Junior Show?

"There are several steps, [including] consulting with the author, and in most cases the author of the show will do the cuts," Ochocki said. "A reading with kids to get the feel for how the cuts work, then several staged versions to work out the kinks before the final licensed version. So the first staged version is always very important to the end product."

He added, "The process can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months from conception to finished product. All of the living authors have done the cuts and fixes to the Junior Shows. The show kits then contain a director's guide, performance CD, and in some cases a choreographic video to help teachers produce the show."

Titles in the MTI JR. division include Once on This Island, Guys and Dolls, Into the Woods, Fiddler on the Roof, Dear Edwina, Aladdin, Music Man, School House Rock, Pirates of Penzance, Godspell Honk!, Bugsy Malone and more.

The Pennsylvania student performers include Elizabeth Damuth, Olivia Dubendorf, Allyson Briggs, Alex Parisi, Paul Winkler, Steven Butler, Mike Rodd, Dan Jones, Rhianna Radick, Tori Riess, Justine Brannon, Jenna Caulfield, Amy Bishop, Ryan Whitman, Christopher Hutton, Ben Klein, Josh Lucci, Lauren Garvey, Ellie Kaplan, Kelly Lawler, Allison Lippe, Brianna Pollock, Victoria Reiss, Courtney Seckinger, Erica Seiver, Ashley Seiver, Claire Gober, Kathleen Flemming, Michaeli Rourke and Corey Gross.

Director Ochocki said, "It has been very exciting to work closely with Dick Scanlan and Jeanine Tesori, who have been wonderful… The process is also exciting for the young cast, who get the inside on how a show like this is created. And while it is a lot of hard work, the learning process is something very special."

The cast at Theatre Arts Center ranges in age from 13-17.

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