Although the 1967 film is a silly and trivial affair, that spoof of the 1920s featuring Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Channing is a masterpiece compared to this overlong, misconceived mess of a musical that is loosely based on the film. At a time when tuneful Broadway scores are seemingly a dime a dozen, the new songs here are dreadful and are repeated ad nauseum. And if that weren’t enough, there are Asian stereotypes such as dropped r’s and even minstrel-show anthem “Mammy” sung in Chinese!
Why the creators dumped some of the best period songs of the film in favor of such inferior new material is a mystery, but at least the Drury Lane choreography by Tammy Mader and swing band directed by Ben Johnson evoke a sense of the raucousness of the era. Holly Ann Butler is a likeable Millie, though there is little of the initial naïveté that the character calls for. By contrast, her suitor Jimmy (Mark Fisher), who is supposed to have street smarts, comes off as the one who needs to be shown the ropes. The other lovers (Randall Dodge and Dara Cameron) do exhibit some chemistry in their scenes but it is Melody Betts who steals the show with a knockout performance as Muzzy. (Dennis Polkow)
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” plays through December 20 at Drury Lane Oakbrook, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, (630)530-0111. $19-$61.