THE musical Thoroughly Modern Millie has been popular with people of all ages since it was first presented in 1967 as a romantic musical comedy film that had Julie Andrews as the title character.
It was transformed into a stage musical that premiered on Broadway in 2002 and won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. And a subsequent adaptation of the musical into a shorter version for performance by young people, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR, has seen it staged by hundreds of youth theatre groups and schools around the world. Chelsea Willis, a Hunter theatre performer who is among the team that help students at Newcastle Young People's Theatre to develop their skills, recommended the show to the company heads after seeing a production. So the show is having a season at YPT's theatre in Lindsay Street, Hamilton, from September 30 to November 3, with 40 young performers in two alternating casts.
Theatre: Newcastle's cultural and arts scene
The musical's title character, Millie Dillmount, is a young woman who moves to New York from a rural Kansas town in 1922 because she wants to get a husband who has a lot of money. No sooner has she got off a train in New York than she is mugged, losing her hat, scarf and purse. She asks a young male passerby, Jimmy Smith, who is a brash city slicker, for aid and he advises her to go back to Kansas. When she refuses to do that, he tells her to check into the Hotel Priscilla, a rooming house for would-be actresses. Millie does that and finds herself among many colourful young women. She next begins searching for a job as the secretary of a rich businessman, with the intention of becoming his wife. Nothing, of course, goes the way that she hopes - or does it?
Audiences have found the show to be engrossing because in the early 1920s women were office staff members who had to do what male employers demanded and Millie's experiences show how women were making moves to get that changed.
In the early 1920s women ... had to do what male employers demanded and Millie's experiences show how women were making moves to get that changed.
The YPT production's two Millies, Brianna Budden, who is 16, and Alice Hollott, 17, see her as a very engaging character. Brianna points to her as being very outgoing.
"She takes charge of herself and doesn't let anyone get in her way or bother her," she said.
Alice sees her as "fun to play because she is very energetic, independent and strong". And the pair also note that Millie is a very demanding role because she is involved in virtually all of the very different style musical numbers.
Chelsea Willis, who is directing the show and choreographing the dancing, with the assistance of Renae Youman, who is doing the tap choreography, said the 1920s dance styles are very engaging, "giving our casts the chance to shine".
The show's songs are also an engaging mix. There are a couple of songs from the film, with the stage show's composer Jeanine Tesori and lyricist Dick Scanlan drawing on different styles of music for many of the songs.
A song called The Speed Test, in which Millie is being interviewed for a job, includes elements from the Gilbert and Sullivan song My Eyes Are Fully Open, background music The Nuttycracker Suite has elements from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, and the well-known Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life, by Victor Herbert, features in a couple of ensembles.
Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr has 11am performances daily from September 30 to October 4, plus an opening night show on October 2, at 7pm, and a 2pm matinee on October 5.
There will then be 7pm Friday shows on October 11 and 18, and November 1, plus 2pm and 7pm shows on Saturdays, October 12 and 19, and November 2; and 2pm Sunday matinees on October 13 and 20.
Opening night tickets are $25 (which includes refreshments), with tickets for all other shows $20.
Tickets can be bought at ypt.org.au/bookings, or by phoning 4961 4895 between 9am and 1pm on Saturdays.
The wonders of being human
DR Michael Mosley, a British physician and science journalist who is renowned for the advice he has given people on their eating habits in television shows and series including Trust Me, I'm a Doctor and Inside the Human Body, is touring Australia in his show Dr Michael Mosley: Wonders of the Human Body, with a presentation at Newcastle's Civic Theatre on Wednesday, September 18, at 7.30pm.
Dr Mosley has a reputation for busting myths about food and challenging conventional health and nutrition advice. He will be advising people on how to stay in good shape in keeping with their age and live well in the contemporary world. The show will include projected background footage from his worldwide adventures and a Q and A, with people able to submit questions for him to answer on the night.
Mosley has just released a new book, The Fast 800, in which he looks at how people can go on a crash diet for weight loss, by consuming no more than 800 calories a day. His wife, Dr Clare Bailey, has written an accompanying book, The Fast 800 Recipe Book, with the 150 Mediterranean-style recipes aimed at getting people to lose weight and lower their blood sugar levels. The recommendations include cutting back on white bread and rice and increasing consumptions of foods including vegetables and olive oil. Tickets for Dr Mosley's show are priced from $81.50 to $96.75. For bookings phone 4929 1977.
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