Brainstorm: Thoroughly Modern Millie, Kings Theatre, Glasgow, Review

Joanne Clifton as Millie Credit: Darren Bell

Joanne Clifton as Millie Credit: Darren Bell


The curtain lifts to reveal country bumpkin Millie Dillmount, played by Strictly Come Dancing’s Joanne Clifton, pulled from Kansas and thrust into 1920’s New York. The story follows Millie’s first week or so in the city, staying in the Hotel Priscilla run by the baddie of the day Mrs Meers, played by Eastenders’ Michelle Collins, and planning to seduce her new boss to marry up.

Clifton’s performance was zealous enough that her dance and song breaks were almost a welcome relief, that’s not to say she wasn’t good, just that it felt pretty forced. Collins as the hotelier and, get this, white slave driver, was hard to watch in the first instance. Her pidgin English and “oriental” dress came across quite offensive, as well as her side-kicks and pet kidnappers Ching Ho and Bun Foo, played by Damian Buhagiar and Andy Yau respectively.  However in some scenes she really came into her own when she let her true identity come through, and gave a convincing performance as a pantomime villain.

The stand out performance of the night came surprisingly from the undercard Muzzy Van Hossmere, portrayed by Jenny Fitzpatrick. An A-lister that Millie stumble across whilst courting her real love interest of the show, Jimmy Smith played by Sam Barrett, Fitzpatrick exuded, and complimented,  all the glitz and glamour afforded to the play, with its Gatsby-esque fringed dresses and bobbed haircuts, with her guardian angel role to the lead.

The set was impressive, with a small number of large set pieces depicting a small number of locations in which the show takes place, Morgan Larges work is one of the saving graces of the show, however the cast is so compact that even the big cast-heavy scenes left the stage looking a little empty.

Racky Plew’s direction was awkward to say the least. A large chunk of the dialogue made for painful watching. Any attempts at humour were all but lost on the audience. Set in the prohibition era, alcohol runs throughout the play out as a sub plot, however the first and second act provided starkly different portrayals. The second act ‘drunken’ scene, played out largely by Graham Macduff as Trevor Graydon, was musical theatre’s equivalent of whacking your funny bone, painful, frustrating and altogether not funny.

On the contrary the drunken scene of the first act was a delight. Set in a speakeasy, the scene was all singing and all dancing, and one of the few scenes that really filled the stage and filled the theatre with fun. It was exactly what a musical theatre scene should be.

Fun but not funny it showcased excellent dancing prowess and some stand out vocal performances, but it was almost instantly forgettable, and not all that recommendable.

6/10 stars.


Thoroughly Modern Millie is at the Kings until Saturday February 11 before transferring to the New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham, tickets available here.

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