Beat the drum for Stage Right Productions middle school version of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” performing at Center High School over the July 4 holiday. Giving as many young performers a chance to step in the spotlight, the show is double cast for the lead roles with casts rotating performances.
On July 3, Parker Cast opened with a matinee with Zelda Cast providing the evening show. According to director Darrington Clark both casts possess equally strong talent. The striking part of Stage Right involves giving younger performers a chance to expand their confidence and their acting abilities. When watching, what is notable is seeing how some young thespians possess the confidence to step forward, show stage presence, and develop a character.
Others in the cast need more confidence. Stage Right Productions provides them the opportunity to develop a stronger persona on stage. Once the show begins, they know they need to step onto the stage and perform. And, perform they do. The participants sing, dance, and act just like paid professionals, but among their peers. With a cast comprised of middle schoolers, watch carefully as they all tap in unison in several numbers.
As a reviewer. I only had the opportunity to view one cast’s performance, so I do not feel comfortable passing out accolades to one cast and ignoring the other. What I saw was wonderfully produced, rehearsed and presented. I believe that the alternate cast provides the same level of performance. I saw everything from polished, poised characters to new performers who had little or no performance time.
Personally, I found it delightful to watch all of them and see their different levels of performance. I saw eagerness in all as well as trepidation as they stepped into the spotlight. Confidence grows when stimulated and practiced. “Thoroughly Modern Millie” provides a venue for growth and pride. Not only did the performers grow, just looking at the audience (mostly parents, relatives, and friends) pride and energy beamed from them at intermission and post-show.
For Darrington Clark, he took risks in casting as the villain and her accomplices were supposed to be of Oriental descent. Clark saw no reason to hold to that and revised the characters and the dialogue to be more inclusive of the students he had for the production. His changes worked flawlessly and humorously.
When I review other performances, I usually know many of the cast and know what to expect. Going into “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” I saw new, fresh faces and did not recognize any in the cast list. So, for me it was my introduction to new, upcoming talent. I believe I will see many of these faces again and will become familiar with their names.
Millie Dillmount: Mia Cabrera+
Jimmy Smith: Sam Stedry*
Miss Dorothy: Megan Mayer+
Trevor Graydon III: Ian Spachman*
Mrs. Meers: Kennedy White+
Muzzy Van Hossmiers: Kate Whitefield+
Louie: Brady Fisher-York
Tommy John: Cameron Oviatt*
Mrs. Flannery: Sophia Fortin+
Millie Dillmount: Grace Piper Fields+
Jimmy Smith: Fritz Sullivan*
Miss Dorothy: Eva Smith+
Trevor Graydon III: Toby Rodriguez*
Mrs. Meers: Gretchen Garbe+
Muzzy Van Hossmiers: Autumn Quarles+
Louie: Collin Montgomery
Tommy John: Wyatt Baehr*
Mrs. Flannery: Lyda Cosgrove+
The balance of the cast does not rotate and can be seen at all performances. They are: Elliana Goldberg as Gloria, Katie Murphy as Alice, Trinity Samuelson as Ethel, Layla Ledford as Ruth, Anne Rineella as Rita, Danielle Droessler as Cora, Riley Mo as Lucille–The Priscilla Hotel residents. Featured roles; Maggie Kissick (Pearl lady & featured dancer), Brady Fisher-York (The Letch & featured dancer), Collin Montgomery (Swing with Louie); Muzzy’s Boys, Elliott Daggett, Solomon Puckett, Sam Williamson Fritz Sullivan, Sam Stedry as Muzzy’s Boys; Sam Williamson as the Policeman, Payton Cherra as the New Modern.
Featured Guests at Muzzy’s party are: Matthew Schneeberger, Addie Hiestand, Sam Williamson, Noell Bertrand, Solomon Puckett, Chloe Welch, Elliott Daggett, Grace Weber. The Dance Troupe is: Maggie Kissick, Livia Barbre, Ashley Benforf , Ava Black, Caroline Black, Ava Harrington, Addie Hiestand, Madi Moorman, Leah Pal, Sally Panis, Megan Ruf. The Moderns are: Audrey Apprill, Noelle Bertrand, Ava Black, Willa Cosgrove, Annabel Finegold, Anna Kendle, Emma Kuhlman, Liv Madden, Iva Rodriguez & Petra Uhlig. The Citizens are: Tatium Aikin, Emma Denton, Mia Hughes, Zoe McCamy, Riley McConnell, Julia Quigley, Suzanne Sade, Sarah Schwaller, Abigail Swanson.
The Production Crew is: Donna West, creative director; Scott West, executive director; Alexandra Brooke, marketing director; Darrington Clark, director; Kaili Kimmerer, stage manager; Elena Wickstrom, music director; Kelly Urschel, choreographer; Sam Wise, assistant director; Austin Rios, assistant stage manager; Chris Shankin, set design; Alexandra Brooke & Pam Martin, costume design; Ian Spachman & Ava Harrington, student costumers; Rachael Carney, lighting design; MJH Media Group, & Maddie Rowe, sound design; Essy Seigel, props master; Savino Go, run crew: Haley Knudsen, program manager; Jamie Squire, photography; Darrington Clark, playbill design.
Cast and crew at Stage Right Productions presents a strong middle school version of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” that entertains young and young at heart. Whether you know someone in the cast or just want a nice theatre experience for the holiday weekend, this is a good choice. Such theatre workshops and opportunities serve as a great program for younger students who enjoy performing or just to experience the excitement of musical theatre.
This production performs at Center High School and runs about 2.5 hours with intermission. The show if very family oriented with no adult language or sexual content. More information and tickets can be found on the Stage Right Production website. Next up for Stage Right is the high school version of the high school version of “Grease.”
Tags: Stage Right Productions, ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie” review, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment