Thoroughly Modern Millie, the Roaring '20s musical due to begin previews on Broadway on March 19, will launch its national tour in Green Bay, WI, in June 2003, Variety reported. No theatre or exact dates have been mentioned.
Millie, about a forlorn girl from Kansas, suitcase in hand, standing before the glittering New York City of 1922, will play Broadway's Marquis Theatre. Michael Mayer directs.
Mayer told Playbill On-Line Feb. 6 that Thoroughly Modern Millie (inspired by the 1967 Julie Andrews film of the same name) has parallels to "The Wizard of Oz," that classic tale of another girl from Kansas finding herself in a brave new world.
"I love the 'Wizard of Oz' element to it," Mayer said. "It's Dorothy coming from Kansas. That's how it was originally written, but they changed it because Julie Andrews is British. She comes from Kansas to the Emerald City, she goes over the rainbow to Oz, to find her heart's desire — or what she thinks is her heart's desire. There's a good witch, and a bad witch. She meets all these colorful characters along the way. The journey she thinks is external is actually internal, and she doesn't have to go back to Kansas at the end. That's the great part, she can stay in Oz!"
The "Dorothy" in question in the new Broadway musical — with book by Dick Scanlan and original screenwriter Richard Morris, lyrics by Scanlan, and music by Jeanine Tesori — is newcomer Sutton Foster, playing a young woman who reinvents herself in an era of great cultural change in America. Among the "colorful characters" she meets along the are love interest Jimmy (Gavin Creel), fellow hotel resident Miss Dorothy (Angela Christian), serious bachelor-businessman Trevor Graydon (Marc Kudisch), corrupt hotelier Mrs. Meers (Harriet Harris), who serves as a kind of "bad witch"; Chinese immigrants Bun Foo (Francis Jue) and Ching Ho (Ken Leung); Josephine Baker-style diva Muzzy Van Hossmere (Sheryl Lee Ralph), who serves as a kind of "good witch"; and Miss Flannery (Anne L. Nathan), the steno-pool matron who gets what's likely to be a show stopping tap break. "It's so different than the 'Millie' movie," Mayer admitted. "The heart of the play is the same as the movie. It's the basic story, and they do tap dance in the elevator — the things people know about the film are there. But the movie is used as the shell of an idea. We're using it as source material — it's not trying to take the movie and put it on stage. We're only using two and-a-half songs from the movie."
Thoroughly Modern Millie had a tryout at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2000 and continued developing over the past year, with some cast changes, including the addition of Christian (James Joyce's The Dead), Ralph (a Dreamgirls Tony Award nominee) and Harris (Roundabout's The Man Who Came to Dinner, who joined Millie in the last week of the La Jolla run). The collaborators all said that La Jolla taught them the show was stageworthy, and that an audience liked the people and the world of the show. But their challenge was to tighten the script and flesh out the wants and needs of the characters.
"We learned so much in La Jolla," said choreographer Rob Ashford. "We learned where we needed more, where we needed less. The spine of the show is the same [as in La Jolla], but in the places where there was a number, now it's just a better number. We've added a couple of people to the cast. Many of the numbers are new."