Thoroughly Modern Millie
at Aliso Niguel High School

Reviewed on March 28, 2014

San Juan Hills High School
Orange County Register
La Habra High School
Orange County Register
SOCSA Dana Hills
OC Cappies Facebook

Chase Robinson
San Juan Hills High School

Submitted for publication to Orange County Register

Aliso thrills with ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie'

Chase Robinson is a Junior at San Juan Hills High School in San Juan Capistrano.

The Roaring Twenties attracted Americans nationwide for its fast cars, fast women, and even faster lifestyles. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" illustrates the story of small-town girl Millie Dillmount, who is enchanted by this way of living and escapes to New York City; however, she could have never guessed she would find love, get entangled in a white slavery scandal, and become "modern" in the process.

From her arrival to the Big Apple, Emma Chassey is vivacious as Millie. During "Not for the Life of Me," elation shines through Chassey's eyes as she breathes in the city's atmosphere and ditches her old life when she rips up her round-trip train ticket and bobs her hair.

In contrast to grounded Millie lies starry-eyed Miss Dorothy Brown, portrayed by Camryn Graves. Graves' whimsical behavior is apparent in "How the Other Half Lives," as she strolls across the stage while her golden ringlets bounce with each step.

Daniel Hardwick displays tremendous characterization and vocal achievement as carefree Jimmy Smith. At first Jimmy deflates Millie's hopes of the big city, but later Hardwick reveals Jimmy's love for her during "What Do I Need With Love" as he passionately sings and clenches jail cell bars.

Kiersten Bjerke also puts on a rousing performance as Mrs. Meers, the show's antagonist. Bjerke commands the stage with a domineering presence, unwavering voice, and deceitful facials—qualities indicative of an exemplary villainess.

Serving as Mrs. Meers' henchmen Ching Ho and Bun Foo, portrayed by Jacob Buck and Catrina Fielis respectively, demonstrate precise comedic timing as they shove laundry carts and scrub walls, while maintaining strong Chinese accents.

Whether occupying office halls or flocking to parties, the ensemble represents the hustle and bustle ambiance of New York and operates as a powerful unit. Specifically, the stenographers exhibit theatrical strength during "Forget About the Boy," as they band together with Millie in a tapping spectacle.

To capture the Jazz Age, Property Master Grace Barbella creates Vogue magazine covers, while Costume Designer Brittney Alicea designs slinky dresses representative of the flapper lifestyle. Also, Set Designer Chris Dibley constructs various sets such as jail cells and a speakeasy cover depicting a woman with an eye that functions as a peephole.

From flappers to foreign hijinks, Aliso Niguel High School's rendition of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" has it all and is a musical extravaganza not to be missed.

^ top

Jakob Garberg
La Habra High School

Submitted for publication to Orange County Register

A "thoroughly" enjoyable production at Aliso Niguel

Jakob Garberg is a sophomore at La Habra High School in La Habra.

Marriage. Does the life-long union work best as a practical or passionate arrangement? This challenging issue acts as one of the many matters addressed in Aliso Niguel's recent performance of "Thoroughly Modern Millie," where an exciting cast and stellar voices unite to create a memorable production.

Based on the 1967 Julie Andrews film and with a book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan, "Thoroughly Modern Millie" follows the journey of young Millie Dillmount as she hopes to find a rich husband throughout the hustle and bustle of 1922 New York. With the help of a wide-eyed hopeful actress, a charismatic conman, and a widowed singer, Millie learns to find love where she least expects it.

The vibrant ensemble creates distinct, relatable characters as they rousingly recreate busy city life.

The stellar Emma Chassey portrays the demanding Millie Dillmount, using her passionate voice and honest reactions to create a multi-layered and strong protagonist. Along with her emotional rendition of "Gimme Gimme," Chassey also displays a comedic talent as she attempts to seduce her would-be fiancé, Trevor Graydon.

Her hopeful husband is played by the cunning Tyler Hall, whose over the top emotions and excellent diction create a memorable "business man" character. Hall excels at using his quick timing and clever sides to the audience to display Graydon's transition from stoic boss to love sick drunk.

Playing the sassy Ms. Flannery, the hilarious Kourtney Fisher shows devotion to the role throughout the entire production, keeping a consistent character even as she dances away through numbers such as "Speed Test." Fisher also succeeds at using a wide range of humorous expressions and gestures throughout the performance.

The scheming Mrs. Meers is portrayed by the dedicated Kiersten Bjerke, who utilizes exaggerated hand gestures to create a confident, memorable presence on stage. Even as she remains stationed on the center of the stage, Bjerke commands the audience with her strong movements.

The costumes, designed by Brittney Alicea, work to emphasize each character's traits, may it be Muzzy's elegance or Millie's modern attitude. Successfully setting the tone of each scene, the lighting, designed by Chaz Szafirski, adds to the environment throughout the entire performance.

Even with the rare drop-outs of microphones, the performers display a constant projection and clear diction.

With strong characters and an involved ensemble, "Millie" is an emerald in a world of green glass.

^ top

Taylor Plett
SOCSA Dana Hills

Submitted for publication to OC Cappies Facebook

Modern cast raises skirts - and applause - at Aliso Niguel

Taylor Plett is a freshman at SOCSA Dana Hills in Dana Point

When debutantes find love with Chinese laundrymen and farmers' daughters with NYC's freshest millionaires, it's clear that everything today is thoroughly modern!

Aliso Niguel's "Thoroughly Modern Millie" renders the 1920's comic pastiche as a glamorous and swanky spectacle, festooned with dazzling ensemble numbers and a vivacious cast exhibiting New York's up-to-dates.

When small-town Millie Dillmount arrives in the Big Apple to snag a wealthy boss-turned-fiancé, she encounters unexpected dangers as the villainous Mrs. Meers attempts to steal her friend for the white slave trade, and winsome Jimmy attempts to steal her heart.

Millie (Emma Chassey) flaunts a jaunty Charleston with youthful fervor, swishing a cropped skirt as her buzzing belt rings in "Not for the Life of Me." Chassey and David Hardwick as Jimmy complement each other's croons as they waltz precariously on a window ledge in "I Turned the Corner."

Meanwhile, Dorothy's (Camryn Graves) flouncing and docile persona counters Millie's brassy energy as she daintily poses, her dovelike soprano trilling in "How the Other Half Lives." Her budding love with Trevor Graydon (Tyler Hall) transforms his sober character into a lovesick Romeo as he grasps his fluttering heart during "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life."

Mrs. Meers (Kiersten Bjerke) utilizes a wheelchair in her performance, slithering across stage as her menacing sneer reveals the cunning actress behind the motherly façade. Her henchmen Ching Ho (Jacob Buck) and Bun Foo (Catrina Fielis) endear a guffawing audience as they warble for their ‘mammy', English subtitles wittily translating the Chinese lament.

Still, it's Miss Flannery (Kourtney Fisher) that steals the show as her role of curmudgeon head stenographer metamorphoses into one of a commiserating jilted lover, exuberantly shooing off Jimmy after Millie tries to forget lost love in "Forget About the Boy."

Praise is due to Brittney Alicea for ravishingly authentic costume design: sequins glitter and tassels dance as the flapper style is showcased in a myriad of stunningly adorned garb. The flashy frocks twirl to a nightclub beat in "The Nutty Cracker Suite," tastefully complemented by Rachel Richardson's chic choreography.

Aliso Niguel's "Thoroughly Modern Millie" features a cast of outlandish fiends, vivacious flappers, and unlikely friends that delivers this contemporary pomp with glitz and flair. Through each flamboyant flit and ballad of love, this tale of unexpected romance and friendship relays that, when times are modern, anything is possible!

^ top