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Thoroughly Modern Millie – Bristol Hippodrome REVIEW

I held my breath as I walked into the auditorium for fear of a sweltering few hours. I relaxed as I realised the air con was in full flow and settled down ready to be transported back to the New Jazz Age of 20s America. Thoroughly Modern Millie was originally a 1950s stage musical, then adapted for the 1960s film starring Julie Andrews and now a 2002 Broadway Show.

Strictly Star, Joanne Clifton, as Millie not only impressed with her dance moves, from tap to tango but also has a serious set of pipes. Her vocals suited the style nicely but she could have done with some more movement in her solos as they seems a little static. She completes her triple threat with confident acting and strong comedic timing. Her over animated character is too cute-but-dorky that you can’t help but connect with Millie and are root for her to do well.

Adorable Kansas born and bred, Millie is thrown in at the deep end of bustling Manhattan. She attempts to keep her head above water, pay her rent and make her boss fall in love with her. And this is where my main problem with the musical lies.

It’s set in the time where dresses got shorter and heels got higher. Women were finally becoming liberated and a turning point was beginning. As Millie got her hair bobbed and started going out for drinks with her gal pals, there was an subplot that Millie only needed to marry her boss to secure a successful future. This felt outdated and slightly backwards for the main story.

Some songs slipped under the radar and they could’ve made more of the bigger, well known numbers such as “Gimmie Gimmie” and “Forget about the boy”. “The Speed Test” had the best choreography from the show, combining simple yet effective tap dancing with desks on wheels. The choreography from the rest of the show was of a good yet unexciting standard.

TMM - Sam Barrett as Jimmy Smith and Joanne Clifton as Millie (c) Darren Bell

I will say that the show was genuinely funny. Slapstick that had the audience wiping away tears after a drunk scene, that worked their gags until the edge of annoyance. Plenty of quick wit and simplistic humour kept us giggling. There was also an interesting twist of a borderline racist bad guy posing as a geisha-girl hotel receptionist.

The production was good. Good being a carefully chosen word. Nothing particularly shone but there wasn’t a really weak element. Despite the dated story that desperately needs updating, for a piece of light hearted entertainment that you take for face value, it ticks all the boxes.

TMM - Joanne Clifton as Millie and Company (c) Darren Bell
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