As school performances go, an adapted version of a well-loved musical was top-class judging by the cheers and claps from a capacity audience.
Adult spectators who were weaned on Shakespeare productions as teenagers must have yearned for a return to school now that shows like Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr are on the radar of drama and music teachers.
This week’s production at Frederick Gent School, South Normanton, was a delight from start to finish - beautifully performed, exquisitely costumed and buzzing with the energy and enthusiasm of youth.
Sensational singing, creative choreography and cracking comedy were the hallmarks of a production which entertained proud parents and pals.
Flapper girls in drop-waisted dresses danced as if their lives depended on it, sharp-dressed suitors sang their hearts out and minor players in a slave trade ring added plenty of comedy with their efforts to please their mistress.
Katie Rowe in the lead role of stenographer Millie Dillmount was evey inch the star - she sang beautifully, she looked divine and her comic timing was spot-on. Her demeanour captured the essence of a new girl in New York who was on a mission, a mixture of wide-eyed wonder and steely determination to marry into money.
Chester Krikken was a good match vocally, giving a strong performance in his role as ladies’ man Jimmy Smith. His rival and Millie’s boss, Trevor Graydon, was well played by golden-voiced Jordan Matkin who stepped into the part just a month ago.
Millie’s demure mate Dorothy Brown, who steals her boss’s heart, was played by Ellie Gascoigne and Millie’s supervisor in the typing pool, Miss Flannery, was characterised by high-kicking Molly Reaney.
Much of the comedy fell to the villains of the piece, slave ring chief Mrs Meers who ran a hotel for single ladies then spirited them away. This role was expertly handled by kimono-wearing Chloe Marshall whose wistful look into space as she uttered her signature line: “So sad to be all alone in the world,” raised a laugh every time.
Jack Wilson, in overlong trousers, as the romantic Ching Ho and Codie Ensor as the volatile Bun Foo added much comedy to the proceedings in their role as Chinese laundry workers.
Even the school head, Martyn Cooper got in on the act, by dressing up in black wig and kimono to play the laundry workers’ Mammy. He had his image projected onto a video screen and delighted the audience and performers by appearing in costume at the end of the show.
Thoroughly Modern Millie was the last production to be directed by Stewart Summerell, who leaves Frederick Gent School after nine years, to take up a position as head of English at Belper School. He was presented with the School Council Award for being an exceptional and caring teacher by Jo Petch, who produced and choreographed Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Ross Donaldson was musical director of the show, which was staged on July 17 and 18.
LEADING LIGHTS: Katie Rowe, who played Millie, is pictured with Chester Krikken, who played Jimmy. Photo by Matt Petch