"Thoroughly Modern Millie" opened a two night run at the IU Auditorium Wednesday. It’s a perky musical that flaunts its unsophistication. Like "Gigi," the show is actually based on the movie from the late sixties. The innocent Millie, Alex Ellis, arrives in New York from Kansas on a bus with dollar signs instead of stars in her eyes. Her goal is to get a job, marry her boss and live happily ever after, but of course the whole audience expects that romance is going to get in the way of these well laid plans.
Just minutes after getting off that bus, Millie’s purse, her hat and even one of her shoes is stolen and she’s moved into a hotel where the phony
Chinese owner, Elizabeth Murf, is running a white slave racket. Millie looks for a job and her skills as a steno and typist are quickly put to the test at the Sincere Trust Insurance Company. Her boss Mr. Trevor Graydon, Jason Fleck, tests her with a business letter in the tempo of a Gilbert and Sullivan patter song.
Millie gets the job and is in hot pursuit of Mr. Graydon, but Jimmy, Adam Zelasko, an apparently free and easy hustler keeps trying to put romance in the way of her plans. Meanwhile Millie meets Miss Dorothy Brown, Courtney Brown, an uptowner who wants to slum a bit. Millie is kept pretty busy with work, fending off Jimmy and saving Miss Brown from the hotel’s white slave racket. Fortunately Millie is taken up by and allied with a society lady and former actress Muzzy, Kriste Belt.
The cast of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" was a group of strong singers, especially Alex Ellis as Millie. The musical parts of the show are at their best in the up tempo numbers. The longer lyrics get a little flat. The composers weren’t above some outrageous borrowings and there were quite a few chuckles in the Auditorium audience as we realized that one of the extended dance numbers was using tunes from Tchaikovsky’s "Nutcracker."
Following a pleasantly improbable plot with a good deal of humor, lots of peppy Charlestons and perky tap dancing everything works out. The whiter slaver is foiled. Millie learns that love, after all is an important ingredient in marriage and she discovers that the ardent Jimmy is actually a multimillionaire and even her boss’s boss.
"Thoroughly Modern Millie" has a single final performance this evening at the IU Auditorium at eight.