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May 14, 2014

In Review: 'Millie' brings Roaring Twenties to modern times

Musical, cast takes Mainstage Theatre back to prohibition days

ANDERSON — Money, liquor, kidnappings and flappers may be a big part of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” but it’s the cast’s dancing, comedy and songs that star in the musical coming to Mainstage Theatre.

Under the direction of Bill Malone, the classic tale of a 1920s “modern” gal named Millie Dillmount opens tonight.

Based on the 1967 film and the 2002 Broadway play, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” focuses on the small town girl trying to marry for money — not love — as a Roaring Twenties woman in the Big Apple.

When Kansas-born Millie makes it to New York City, she trips Jimmy Smith, causing him to fall to the ground, before he eventually falls for her.

Alaina Coplin’s portrayal of the titular character makes it easy to understand why he does. Coplin’s raw talent includes her powerhouse voice, but she delivers even with simple one-liners and her mannerisms.

Supporting actress Kirby Cunningham as Millie’s new best friend, Miss Dorothy Brown, isn’t far behind. She holds her own with Coplin’s musical talents, and Cunningham portrays the perfect blend of innocence, humor and optimism for the role originated by the legendary Mary Tyler Moore.

Male lead Gabriel Porch is charming as the seemingly broke Jimmy, who vies for Millie’s affections. From getting tripped in his opening scene to scaling a skyscraper, Porch successfully uses physicality to get a laugh and propel the story forward.

As Mr. Trevor Graydon, Millie’s other love interest, Tommy Thomas’ breakout moment is when he lays eyes on Miss Dorothy, truly showcasing his musical talent and comedic timing.

Nita Arnold carries the subplot as the villainous, but funny, Mrs. Meers as she ships off unsuspecting orphan girls to the Orient. Arnold practically plays two roles, going back and forth between her character’s secret life and her true identity.

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