With geometric projections of the New York City skyline, jewel-toned dresses covered in fringe and a rich score that fills the Troutt Theater, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is the quintessential musical.
Belmont’s Musical Theatre department opens its production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” directed by David Shamburger, Friday at 7:30 p.m., with shows running for two weekends.
In the show, the mousy-haired and bright-eyed Millie Dillmount moves from Kansas to New York City to marry a wealthy bachelor.
“She has huge goals, and she has no idea what she is getting herself into,” said Katelynn Fahrer, who plays the ambitious Millie in one of the show’s two casts.
The story follows Millie’s journey from gold digger to hopeless romantic, and Fahrer characterizes this well. Some of the best numbers in the show feature Fahrer alone. The very first song in the show, “Not for the Life of Me,” shows off her thoughtful, nuanced portrayal of Millie.
When Millie has to make a decision, particularly in “Jimmy” and “Gimme, Gimme,” Fahrer is at her best. Millie’s internal journey is etched across her face and echoed in her crisp, resonant belt.
Millie has been a dream role of Fahrer’s since she was young.
“Like Millie, I say things that maybe I shouldn’t, but I commit and deal with the consequences later,” said Fahrer.
Even though Millie gets into a bit of trouble along the way, the spunky heroine has her happy ending.
Tori Kocher plays Mrs. Meers, an unassuming Chinese woman by day and a dangerous criminal by night. Mrs. Meers was trained to be an actress, but when younger women stole parts from her, she grew bitter.
She started playing the role of Mrs. Meers, the owner of the Hotel Priscilla, to get revenge on young actresses and traffick them to Hong Kong.
Mrs. Meers is not Chinese, but puts on a fake accent to trick the girls. To play the role, Kocher does two seperate dialects in the show, “fake Chinese and real New Yorker,” she said.
Playing Mrs. Meers means understanding “that line of what is humorous and what could be offensive to someone’s culture,” said Kocher.
Kocher has clearly done the work and lights up the stage with her hilarious facial expressions and dynamic vocal performance.
Austin Querns plays Jimmy with charm and smooth, expressive vocals. Querns, a senior, loves his character because Jimmy is almost an actor.
“He’s portraying this guy that he’s not,” said Querns.
When Querns is on stage, he is focused exclusively on Fahrer, and they work off of each other well. Their singing voices harmonize beautifully. The show’s music is one of Querns’ favorite parts of the production
“It’s a contemporary concept, but it has that 1920s feel to it,” said Querns. “Everything is just beautifully written and the orchestra does it so well.”