November 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Thoroughly Modern Millie   Original Broadway Cast Recording 2002
Music composed by Jeanine Tesori
lyrics by Dick Scanlan
except: 'Thoroughly Modern Millie' - music by James Van Heusen, lyrics by Sammy Cahn
'The Speed Test' music by Sir Arthur Sullivan, lyrics by Dick Scanlan
'Jimmy' music and lyrics by Jay Thompson
'Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life' & 'I'm Falling in Love with Someone' music by Victor Herbert, lyrics by Rida Johnson Young
'Mammy' music by Sam Lewis, Joe Young, Walter Donaldson, additional lyrics by Dick Scanlan
Principal Cast:

  • Millie Dillmount: Sutton Foster
  • Jimmy Smith: Gavin Creel
  • Mrs. Meers: Harriet Harris
  • Miss Dorothy Brown: Angela Chistian
  • Ching Ho: Ken Leung
  • Bun Foo: Francis Jue
  • Muzzy Van Hossmere: Sheryl Lee Ralph
  • Mr. Trevor Graydon: Marc Kidisch
  Available on RCA Victor 09026 63959 2
Running Time: 58.32
Crotchet   Amazon UK   Amazon US

thoroughly modern millie

Track List:

  1. Overture - Lawrence Feldman
  2. Not for the Life of Me
  3. Thoroughly Modern Millie - Joyce Chittick
  4. Not for the Life of Me (Reprise) - JoAnn M. Hunter
  5. How the Other Half Lives - Angela Christian
  6. Not for the Life of Me (Reprise)
  7. Speed Test - Joyce Chittick
  8. They Don't Know
  9. Nuttycracker Suite - Lawrence Feldman
  10. What Do I Need With Love? - Gavin Creel
  11. Only in New York - Sheryl Lee Ralph
  12. Jimmy
  13. Back at Work - Lawrence Feldman
  14. Forget About the Boy - Joyce Chittick
  15. Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life/I'm Falling in Love With Someone (Quartet/Rep - Angela Christian
  16. I Turned the Corner/I'm Falling in Love With Someone (Quartet/Reprise) - Angela Christian
  17. Muqin
  18. Long As I'm Here With You - Aldrin Gonzalez
  19. Gimme Gimme
  20. Finale (Thoroughly Modern Millie) - Joyce Chittick
  21. Final Bows - Lawrence Feldman

In 1967 the film Thoroughly Modern Millie was released, starring Julie Andrews. It is most memorable for the title number and for the amusement value of watching the normally serious actor James Fox as romantic lead and 'hoofer'. Other than that it was a particularly dull production that feels twice its running length.

Returning to the present day and a new version has been produced for the Broadway stage. Most of the music from the film has been jettisoned and replaced with a cheerful and sprightly new score by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan, plus other borrowings.

The plot is as silly as is usual with these sorts of show. In 1922 Millie Dillmount goes to Manhattan from Kansas with a plan to get a job and marry the boss. She stays in a boarding house with other young ladies including Miss Dorothy Brown. Unbeknownst to her Mrs. Meers, the owner of the boarding house, is actually running a white slavery ring. Millie's plans are put into doubt when she meets and, reluctantly, finds herself falling in love with the unreliable Jimmy Smith.

So, with that over with, what about the recording in hand?

The overall quality of the recording is excellent. The first thing that struck me from the overture onwards is that the orchestration is first class: clear and crisp and used well for the 1920s-style score. The songs are on the whole well-written and in style sit somewhere between Anything Goes and The Boy Friend.

The singing abilities of the cast are without exception very good. Sutton Foster as Millie is particularly impressive. She has a strong 'belter' voice that is perfect for this sort of score. From the memorable title song, to the tongue-twisting 'Speed Test' (which uses the tune and structure of 'My Eyes are Fully Open' from Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore) to the love song 'Jimmy' she never slips. I notice that the cast list says 'introducing Sutton Foster'. If this is truly her first lead role, she is definitely a talent to watch.

Gavin Creel as Jimmy has a pleasant, musical tenor and particularly shines in his signature song, the sardonic 'What Do I Need with Love?'.

Angela Christian as Miss Dorothy is perhaps the weakest link in the principal cast. There is nothing actually wrong with her vocal performance, but it comes across as a little insecure, particularly when compared with the strength of Foster.

Sheryl Lee Ralph has a lounge singer voice, which perfectly suits her role as chanteuse Muzzy Van Hossmere, while Marc Kudisch, as Trevor Graydon, Millie's boss, is a fine, if unexceptional, bass baritone.

Finally of the principal cast, Harriet Harris as the villain Mrs. Meers sings 'They Don't Know', an enjoyable expository song, with great style.

If the score has one fault it is one that seems to be quite common in musical theatre: the best music is in the first act. After the interval there is at least one too many ballads and the show loses some of its momentum.

Overall this is an extremely entertaining, well-sung and well-orchestrated production which will bring pleasure to any lover of the musical theatre. After listening to this a few times I booked tickets to go and see the newly-opened London Production. There can be no stronger recommendation than that!

Chris Hill

**** 4

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