Springhouse thespians to perform a thoroughly modern musical
Leaving a small town to head for a new life in the big city is what Millie Dillmount sets out to do in the musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr.”
The year is 1922 and Millie’s plan is to find a job as a secretary for a rich man and then marry him.
A series of adventures that include getting mugged, staying at a hotel operated by a woman who kidnaps orphan girls, and working for a wealthy boss whose slow in proposing marriage foil her original plans.
“Millie is sassy, stubborn, and bold,” said eighth grader Taylor Shortell, who plays Millie. “I have enjoyed playing her because I am a big dreamer and have an optimistic view on everyday life.
“Millie never gives up to make her dreams come true.”
Shortell said her biggest challenge is maintaining her energy. Not only is she a lead, but she also helped with the choreography of the show and taught her fellow cast members their routines.
“This show is different because it has a variety of dance styles, more than any other shows I have been in,” Shortell said.
Co-director and Choreographer Stephanie Knowlton said Shortell and two other actresses, eighth grader Paige Herman, who plays Mrs. Meers, and eighth grader Lydia Walker, who plays one of the Hotel Priscilla girls, Gloria, wanted to assist her with the choreography.
Knowlton appreciates their help and said it has contributed to the show’s success.
Eighth grader Brycen Geiger commented on his role of Jimmy Smith.
“Jimmy Smith is a sly man who seems to know everything about New York City,” Geiger said. “He is quite the charmer with the ladies, and overall seems to enjoy living life without thinking too much about the consequences.
“I love my character. He fits me personally in many ways. Jimmy seems like someone who just lives life however it goes.”
Geiger said learning the choreography was the most challenging part of the show, but the camaraderie among the cast made it fun.
Eighth grader Ian Bower plays Trevor Graydon III.
“He is a very rich man who really likes his money,” Bower said. “I like my character’s stern and serious attitude toward his work, along with being quite a fine dresser.
“Trevor can be anything he wants in any kind of situation: a businessman at work, a lovesick weeper in times of sadness, and a comic relief in the most humorous events.”
One of the biggest challenges Bower had was remembering his lines during dance routines.
His favorite thing about his role is the opportunity to show so much expression and voice on stage, and being surrounded by such great fellow cast members.
“This show is going to be pretty rad,” Bower said.
Eighth grader Natalia Cao plays Miss Flannery.
Cao described Miss Flannery as a mean, responsible, older and controlling woman.
“I love my character though,” Cao said. “She is the only one on top of things. And she has a wild side that makes the role fun.”
The most challenging part of the show for Cao are the scene changes. With four different scenery backgrounds in the show, it is difficult to move in and out of them, but she said each set is beautiful.
“I think being in this show is amazing,” Cao said. “Theater is an amazing thing to be part of. When I am in the theater, I get to be another person and spend time with really good people.”
“My character keeps things funny throughout the show,” says seventh grader Marcus Shin who plays Ching Ho.
His biggest challenge has been letting go of his dignity.
“I do some of the silliest things, but appreciate being able to be in the show working with my friends to put on a good performance.”
Paige Herman commented on her role.
“I love my character because she has a big personality; it is fun going from the fake sweet person to the hard-core nasty individual,” said Herman. “My character knows she is a villain and has her own plans going on.
“The most challenging part has been getting into character since Mrs. Meers has so many different personalities.
“The best parts have been helping choreograph the show, and getting to spend time with my fellow cast.
“We like to have fun together on and off the stage.”
Walker discussed her character’s ambition.
“My character Gloria’s ambition is to become an actress and simply survive in New York,” said Walker, who created her own character as the script had a limited background on Gloria. “My personality shines through, and I am having fun with that.
“The various musical numbers in the show are challenging and require a lot of rapid costume changes.”
Directors Stephanie Knowlton, Jessica Reitnauer and Alaina Swartz said they chose “Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr.” because they knew Springhouse has the talent capable of pulling off a show of this caliber.
Springhouse Middle School Theater students will perform “Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr.” 7 p.m. March 9 and 10; and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. March 11.
Tickets may be purchased at the door. The doors open a half-hour before the show starts. There is no assigned seating.