Thoroughly Enjoyable Millie

REVIEW by Willard Manus

LOS ANGELES -- In 2002 THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE won the Tony for Best New Musical, and while the production at the Ahmanson Theatre lacks the star--Sutton Foster--who evidently was largely responsible for the Broadway success, it has plenty to offer in its own right, beginning with Darcie Roberts, the brass-lunged singer who plays Millie.

Based on the 1967 movie musical by George Roy Hill that starred Julie Andrews, Carol Channing and James Fox, Thoroughly Modern Millie scraps the Elmer Bernstein score in favor of "new music and lyrics" by Jeanine Tersori and Dick Scanlan, with Scanlan and Richard Morris (the screenwriter) sharing libretto credit. The movie was a bit too cute for my taste, but the stage version gets around that problem by poking fun at itself--and at musicals in general.

A case in point is the scene in which Trevor Graydon (Sean Allan Krill) and Dorothy Brown (Diana Kaarina) gaze dreamily at each other and suddenly start chirping Victor Herbert's shmaltzy "I'm Falling In Love With Someone."

Kaarina, Krill and Joey Sorge (as Millie's hearthrob Jimmy Smith) give the show its backbone; each is an outstanding singer and actor. The show's star is Darcie Roberts, who makes up in personality and musicality what she might lack as an actress. Tall and pixieish, Roberts sings, smiles and dances up a storm, and makes a thoroughly enjoyable Millie.

Pamela Isaacs as the gold-digging Muzzy Van Hossmere, Hollis Resnik as Mrs Meers, the faux-Chinese white slaver, and Darren Lee and Andrew Pang as her reluctant partners in crime, also contribute winning performances.

MILLIE gets much help from its creative crew: David Gallo (set design), Martin Pakledinaz (costumes) and Donald Holder (lights). Together with director Michael Mayer and choreographer Rob Ashford, they give the show its considerable razzle-dazzle.

At the Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave. thru July 25. Call (213) 628-2772 or visit