Tony-Winner Harriet Harris Plays Final Two Weeks of Millie on Broadway, June 7-20

News   Tony-Winner Harriet Harris Plays Final Two Weeks of Millie on Broadway, June 7-20 Harriet Harris, who snagged a 2002 Tony Award for donning Chinese dragon-lady drag as Mrs. Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie, re-joins the Broadway troupe June 7-20, the final two weeks of the run.
Harriet Harris
Harriet Harris Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Dixie Carter left the Marquis Theatre June 6. She was the second actress from TV's "Designing Women" to star as Meers in Millie: Delta Burke played the part earlier this season.

Harris, known for playing salty ladies on stage and screen, starred in the TV sitcom, "It's All Relative," which was recently canceled.

Stage veteran Harris found her most recognized role to date in the evil Mrs. Meers, a bitter failed actress who affects the disguise of a mysterious Asian lady and lures young hopeful actresses to their doom. She won the 2002 Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Terry Burrell has also played the part of Mrs. Meers.

*

Thoroughly Modern Millie, the spunky show about a flapper fish out of water in Jazz Age Manhattan which won the 2002 Tony Award for Best Musical, will end a two-year-plus run at Broadway's Marquis Theatre on June 20. It will have played 32 previews and 904 regular performances since its March 2002 debut. The show established composer Jeanine Tesori and lyricist-librettist Dick Scanlan as Broadway talents and made a star out of the unknown Sutton Foster. Foster graduated to the lead role of Millie Dillmount after two other actresses exited the show during an out-of-town tryout. She went on to win the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical. She stayed with the show for nearly two years, recently being replaced by Susan Egan.

The production also received Tony Awards for Best Featured Actress (Harriet Harris), Best Orchestrations, Best Costume Design (Martin Pakledinaz) and Best Choreography (Rob Ashford).

Thoroughly Modern Millie, the last new Broadway musical of the 2001-02 season, opened April 18, 2002, at the Marquis Theatre. Preview began March 19.

Millie borrowed characters and elements from the oddball 1967 film of the same name. However, the score was 90 percent new. There were also interpolations: a theme from "The Nutcracker" is jazzed-up to be a speakeasy dance number; "My eyes are fully open to my awful situation," a patter tune from Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore, has new lyrics by Scanlan to become a steno-and-typing test for Millie, who plans to marry her rich and handsome boss; Victor Herbert's "I'm Falling in Love With Someone" is used to express a surprise love-at first-sight between would-be lovers; and a classic tune by Sam Lewis, Joe Young and Walter Donaldson has such a rousing payoff under the title "Muqin." Tesori and Scanlan penned about 10 original tunes for the show, too, including "Long as I'm Here With You," an addition during previews (replacing "Ain't No Prohibition On Romance").

The fanciful and slightly bizarre plot has Millie arriving in town with a suitcase, a few bucks and a lot of gumption to become "thoroughly modern." In the course of a few days, she rents a room in a hotel for women, gets a job, falls for her boss, encounters her true love, befriends a rich star, and uncovers a white slavery ring.

Millie was directed by Michael Mayer. The show currently stars Susan Egan as Millie Dillmount, Leslie Uggams as Muzzy Van Hossmere and Dixie Carter as Mrs. Meers, and features Christian Borle as Jimmy Smith, Kevin Earley as Mr. Trevor Graydon, original cast member Angela Christian as Miss Dorothy Brown (leaving the show June 9), David Rhee as Ching Ho, Peter Kim as Bun Foo and Liz McCartney as Miss Flannery.

The musical is produced by Michael Leavitt, Fox Theatricals and Hal Luftig, in association with Stewart F. Lane, James L. Nederlander, the Independent Presenters Network, Libby Mages/Mari Stuart, Dori Berinstein/Jennifer Manocherian/Dramatic Forces, John York Noble and Whoopi Goldberg.