Play showcases a talented cast of actors

Published in the March 14 – 27, 2018 issue of Morgan Hill Life

The cast of South Valley Civic Theatre concludes the production of ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ March 17 at the Morgan Hill Community Playhouse.
Photo by Marty Cheek

South Valley Civic Theatre’s teen musical show “Thoroughly Modern Millie” has its roots in the wacky 1967 Oscar-winning movie starring Julie Andrews. The story was reworked and juggled around into a sparkling musical that entertains audiences with plenty of laughs and a lot of heart. “Millie” walked off with six Tony Awards in 2002, including Best Musical.

SVCT’s “Millie” showcases a talented energetic cast with creative choreography. It also gets some musical help from the tunes of Victor Herbert, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Al Jolson.

At least 110 glittering costumes by designers Michelle Griffin, Alicia Corso and Adrianne Wilkinson give the production a classy “Roaring ‘20s” look and feel. And I was certainly impressed with the at least 20 detailed scene sets by designer Andrew Cummings. His eye for ingenious design creates a theatrical miracle in the small space that is allowed on the Morgan Hill Community Playhouse stage

Brianna Pember plays Millie, the optimistically, naive hick newly arrived from Kansas who decides to shuck her small-town image and immerse herself in the flashy world of 1920s Manhattan. She makes a transformation by bobbing her hair and raising her skirts with the dream of marrying her wealthy boss. The Live Oak High School senior has the voice and comedic flair to pull off this “modern woman” and her starlit performance is most enjoyable to watch. Pember is unstinting with her energy and belts out the vocals with a solid flair.

The show stealers are Emily Pember, as Chin Ho, and Thanachai Kapinkan, as Bun Foo. They play Chinese laundry workers as well as the devious Mrs. Meers’ henchmen. They belt out old standards including a hilarious version of Al Jolsen’s “Mammy” in authentic Cantonese.

Watching from the audience, they were a hoot and delivered their lines with superb gusto.

Miss Dorothy (Melodie Knappe) and Trevor Graydon (Ben Snook) are hysterical fun performing Victor Herbert’s “I’m Falling In Love With Someone” number. Mrs. Meers (Lucy Kaelin) the nefarious, con artist, pseudo-dragon lady proprietor of the Priscilla Hotel, takes on the most juicy comedy role in the show and mugs her way through with good timing.


Muzzy Van Hossmere (Mia Vetri), the grande dame mentor for Millie, keeps the plot connected with humor and fun. An appealing Roberto Nolasco sings and dances as Millie’s boyfriend, Jimmy Smith.

Director Janell Cummings keeps her actors moving at a fast clip to keep the story rolling along.  Nathan Cummings’ lighting, Christine Carrillo and Liana Kishi’s choreography, and the wonderful teen dancers show some of the brightest spots in this extravaganza. The typewriter dance-and-song number is clever and perfectly done to the amusement of the audience.

Alan Chipman conducts a talented orchestra that is the glue that holds the show together.

After all is said and done, SVCT’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is just the good-hearted hilarious show we truly need. The actors share with the South Valley something fluffy, fun and a reminder that silly innocence and a good laugh is good for us all.

Camille Bounds

Camille Bounds

Theater Columnist at Morgan Hill Life
Camille Bounds is the theater columnist for the Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life. She has performed on Broadway and traveled around the world.
Camille Bounds