Production Run: Monday 13 - Saturday 18 February 2017

Performance Reviewed: Wednesday 15 February

Ok, so let’s get the obvious out of the way first; there’s more than a dash of irony in that title.

Yes, it’s supposed to be in reference to the character being modern for her time, and the ongoing self-labelling she puts herself under as a ‘modern’ throughout the show, but in truth, aside from a soupçon of self-awareness here and there, Millie is generally as traditional and conventional as a big Broadway-esque musical production can get.

And that’s in no way a bad thing, especially when it is executed with such pizazz and razzmatazz as this latest tour manages.

Spirited young girl Millie (Joanne Clifton) hits the big City, literally trips upon an unexpected romance which bounces along, hitting a few bumps and detours on the way. Inject with plenty of song and dance, enrich with some charming supporting characters, big production numbers and have your central character learn some important lessons about life and love in time to ratchet up the feel-good by curtain down.

It’s not exactly groundbreaking, but in truth there’s very little to naysay or critique about Millie; it’s a dazzling, high-energy show that is adorned with some great costume, lighting and production design, elevated by a plethora of great performances, and levied with plenty of humour throughout.

Crucially, it is a heck of a lot of fun.

Some may wince at the slightly non-PC sight of Michelle Collins pantomiming around on stage as the villainous ‘Mrs Meers’ - adopting a wobbly faux Chinese accent that would have even Mickey Rooney thinking twice, and to be fair both the character and her subplot as a whole, dealing as it does with white slavery of 1920’s actresses, just feels bizarre and slightly out of place amongst the classier work around it, but in truth it’s all pretty harmless and plenty tongue-in-cheek to take any real offence to.

As mentioned, Millie looks and sounds terrific. Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan’s score might not be as instantly recognisable and memorable as some of it's peers, but it's a vibrant, upbeat affair, and Racky Plews' direction and choreography injects it all with tremendous vigour and life. From the comic interactions between characters (a drunken exchange in Act II being a real highlight) to the at-times show-stompingly sharp dance routines, Plews works beautifully with the A-grade cast assembled for this tour and crafts a show which is relentlessly entertaining and, considering the first act clocks in at almost an hour and a half, moves with real pace and vim. 

And what a cast. Katherine Glover impresses early on with beautifully crisp vocals and a keen grasp of character as the slightly ersatz yet well-meaning Miss Dorothy Brown, Millie’s best friend, whilst Sam Barrett is cheeky, likeable and in similarly fine voice as potential love interest Jimmy Smith. Jenny Fitzpatrick sings up an absolute storm from the moment she takes to the stage with an exquisite take on singing sensation Muzzy Van Hossmere, her rendition of ‘Only in New York’ a staggeringly confident and impressive entrance.

But perhaps the two biggest stars of the show are Graham MacDuff as Millie’s boss Trevor, and the titular heroine herself, played by recent Strictly champ Clifton. MacDuff is just comic perfection as the characterful Trevor, giving genuinely one of the most impressive comedic and supporting performances of recent memory. Every beat and nuance of his brilliant character work is pitched perfectly, and he isn’t afraid to the play the moment either subtly or writ-large. It’s a brilliantly observed performance, and one that is simply a joy to watch, the audience quite rightly meeting it with rapturous applause at the curtain call.

Equally impressive, Clifton asserts herself as a triple threat for musical theatre to really take note of. She sings, acts and dances up an absolute storm as Millie, carrying the entire show on her shoulders with complete command of the character. It’s a fantastic, funny, warm, infectious leading debut from Clifton, really positing her as a talent to watch.

So no, Thoroughly Modern Millie may not be so thoroughly modern itself, but it is nonetheless a vibrant, funny, good old fashioned slice of musical theatre indulgence, and a hearty dip into the heyday of 20’s glitz and glamour with production values, direction, choreography and cast to match.

Thoroughly recommended.

RATING - ★★★★

Tickets: 0844 871 3011​  / Official Website: click