HARRODSBURG — Ragged Edge Community Theatre’s annual foray into popular and classic musicals this year takes a look at the height of the Roaring ’20s in New York City. Director Frieda Gebert says “Throughly Modern Millie” is a play that will make theater-goers laugh a lot, tap their toes, and remember what falling in love is like.
Gebert took time from a busy rehearsal schedule to answer questions about the musical:
A-M: What is “Thoroughly Modern Millie” about?
FG: It actually has two plots: one is about a modern (1922) woman trying to make it in the “Big Apple.” She wants to be a career woman who marries a rich man, but can’t help falling in love with a young man who is (she thinks) penniless. The other storyline is about a former actress who is using her acting ability to masquerade as a Chinese hotel owner. Secretly, she kidnaps women “all alone in the world” and sells them into slavery in the Far East. She is aided in this by two young Chinese immigrants who are trying to earn enough money to bring their mother over from China. How these two stories intersect will keep you guessing.
A-M: Who are the key players in “Thoroughly Modern Millie”?
FG: The star of the show is definitely Millie, the role launched the career of Sutton Foster, who won a Tony for her performance in 2002. Our Millie is double-cast, due to the vocal demands of the show. Singrid Tipton (of Lawrenceburg) will be playing the role May 25-27 and Jess Harris (of Louisville) will be performing as Millie June 1-3. Other key players are Jimmy, Millie’s love interest, and Trevor Graydon, her boss. Those roles are being played by Dakota Rogers (Harrodsburg) and Mark Gebert (Danville). Becky Collins (Lexington) plays the role of Jimmy’s sister, Miss Dorothy, and Alia McClendon will appear as nightclub singer Muzzy Van Hossmere.
The second plot line — the Asian slave trade business — is spun by Mrs. Meers, played by RECT Artistic Director Tagan Cox. Her two partners in crime are Ching Ho, played by Lane French (Harrodsburg) and his brother, Bun Foo, played by Morgan Gebert (Danville).
A-M: What is the central theme of “Thoroughly Modern Millie”? What is its central conflict?
FG: I think the message of the play is that no matter how hard you plan and scheme, you can’t decide who you fall in love with.
A-M: As a director, what do you like about “Thoroughly Modern Millie”?
FG: I love the music in this show! The music director for the production is Matt Hodge, from Louisville. Matt and I have collaborated on several shows and it is a joy to see him bring the music to life and bring out the best in the singers. He is a real joy to work with. The music itself really sticks with you. I find myself singing the songs from the show all week long.
A-M: How has directing “Thoroughly Modern Millie” challenged you?
FG: This really is a challenging show, mostly because it has about a dozen scene/set changes. That is tough to plan for and execute well. We had to be very creative with the sets. Secondly, there is a fair amount of tap dancing in the show — it’s an old-school musical — and tap dancers are not that easy to find these days.
Another thing that makes the show so challenging is that it requires two of the characters to speak in Mandarin Chinese throughout the whole show. Oh, and they have to sing in Cantonese. Everything they sing and say has to be projected on a screen in English for the audience. By the way, let me just apologize now to anyone who comes to see the show that actually speaks Chinese. We are doing our best, but who knows what we are actually saying?
IF YOU GO
Thoroughly Modern Millie
May 25-27 and June 1-3
Ragged Edge Community Theatre, Harrodsburg
Showtimes: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
Cost:$10/adults, $9/seniors, $8/students
Tickets: (859) 734-2389