Beat the Drums, Here Comes Millie on Tour, Starting July 15

By Kenneth Jones
15 Jul 2003

Darcie Roberts as Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Darcie Roberts as Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Photo by Joan Marcus

The national tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie launches July 15 in Kansas City, Missouri, not far from the territory where the character herself is from: Kansas.

Small-town girl Millie Dillmount, played by Darcie Roberts on tour, is seen at the top of the show with luggage in hand, freshly arrived in New York City of the 1920s. Her goal? Get a job and marry her rich boss. Obstacles along the way include an evil landlady, white slavers, romantic rivals and a fella name Jimmy (played by ex-Urban Cowboy Matt Cavenaugh), who is not her boss.

Based on the film of the same name, the show by Dick Scanlan, Richard Morris and Jeanine Tesori won the 2002 Tony Award for Best Musical. (Performances continue on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre.)

The tour troupe of Thoroughly Modern Millie started rehearsals under director Michael Mayer and Tony-winning choreographer Rob Ashford June 9 toward a July 15 launch at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City.

Diana Kaarina, who died on the barricades as Eponine in the final Broadway performance of Les Misérables May 18, plays winsome rich girl, Miss Dorothy, a foil to Millie. Darcie Roberts was seen in Broadway's Aida, among other shows.



Chicago theatre star Hollis Resnik, whose shelves are weighted with Chicago Jeff Awards, was announced to play both evil Mrs. Meers and (in a change from Broadway) typing-poll boss Miss Flannery. That plan has changed: On the road, Miss Flannery is played by Janelle A. Robinson.

Chicago actor Sean Krill will play Trevor, Tony nominee Pamela Isaacs from The Life is Muzzy, Darren Lee (a respected dancer-actor from Kiss Me, Kate) plays Bun Foo and Andrew Pang is Ching Ho.

The company includes Bradley Benjamin, Renee Monique Brown, Jeremy Davis, Troy Magino, Daniel May, Heather Parcells, Diane Phelan, Mia Price, Paul Schaeffer, Steven Wenslawski, Rachel Lafer, Mark Ledbetter, Joe Langworth, Laura Shoop and Tony Yazbeck.

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Millie, based on the movie of the same name, but much altered with new songs and plotting, won the 2002 Tony Award for Best Musical, and snagged acting Tonys for newcomer Sutton Foster and featured actress Harriet Harris (who played the role of Mrs. Meers in Asian dragon lady drag). The libretto is by Scanlan and the late Richard Morris.

Tech and dress rehearsals were in Green Bay, WI, July 7- 12, followed by the July 15-20 launch at the Starlight Theater in Kansas City.

The national tour is directed by Michael Mayer (Side Man, A View From the Bride) and recreated by the original creative team (including 2003 Best Choreography winner Rob Ashford and Best Costume Design winner Martin Pakledinaz).

Among the Millie engagements are the Music Hall in Dallas (July 22-Aug. 3), Belk Theatre in Charlotte, NC (Sept. 23-28), Wharton Center in East Lansing, MI (Oct. 14-19), Aronoff Center in Cincinnati Nov. 18-30), Broward Center in Ft. Lauderdale, FL (Jan. 6-18, 2004), Buell Theatre in Denver (March 2-14, 2004), Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles (May 18-July 25, 2004).

The tour is expected to be more scenically spare than at Broadway's Marquis, where the show continues.

The tour cast is designed to bring to the regions what was brought to Broadway — fresh faces in a show that is largely about bubbling youth.

The unusual score of the show includes nine new songs, two film songs and interpolations of period and classical numbers (would you believe a little "Nutcracker" and an Arthur Sullivan patter tune?).

Musical direction is by Michael Rafter, with design by David Gallo (scenic), Donald Holder (lighting) and Jon Weston (sound).

Thoroughly Modern Millie is presented by Michael Leavitt, Fox Theatricals and Hal Luftig, with Stewart F. Lane, James L. Nederlander, Independent Presenters Network, L. Mages/M. Glick, D. Berinstein/J. Manocherian/Dramatic Forces, John York Noble and Whoopi Goldberg.

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Actress-singer Hollis Resnik (Mrs. Meers) recently released a CD of show tunes, "Make Someone Happy," on the M.A.M. Records label. The disc includes "All You Need Is a Quarter," "This Is What It Is," "Who's This Stranger," "Lion Taner," "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria," "I'm Tired of Loving You," "Barbara Song," "Can't Help Falling In Love With You," "A Trip to the Library," "Usual Way," "Life of the Party" and "Make Someone Happy."