The theatre department of Ladue High School hopes to have students, parents and other audience members laughing and tapping along with their spring musical.
The student cast of Thoroughly Modern Millie takes the stage at 7 pm on Feb. 24, 25 and 26. The production is based on the book by Richard Morris, the 1967 film and, most specifically, the Broadway show featuring new lyrics and music which launched in 2002.
Theatre Director Janine Burmeister is excited about the upcoming show.
"It's high energy, it's got a great score, and the story is easy to follow," Burmeister said after the rehearsal on Thursday. "It also works well for this particular group of students."
The story follows a young woman from the Midwest who reinvents herself as a "flapper" in New York City of the Roaring Twenties. Single and unsure of whom to love, the confused stenographer pines for two very different men—one for money and one for personality—and makes friends in the city. Meanwhile, the sinister Mrs. Meers attempts to sell Millie into white slavery in the Far East.
The title role of Millie is played by senior Margi Nuetzel, while the supporting roles of Mrs. Meers and Trevor Graydon are played by senior Maggie Knoedelseder and sophomore Dylan Hafer.
All three of the young actors have enjoyed portraying their roles.
"It's a really fun show," Hafer said. "There are a lot of crazy characters and a lot of fun moments."
"I love the fact that it's a dancing show," Nuetzel said. "This has a lot of tap dancing."
Knoedelseder's part of Mrs. Meers suited her personality well.
"She's very theatrical, I'm very theatrical," Knoedelseder said. "That's why I love her; she's over the top."
With a little less than a month before showtime, the production seems to be coming together. The musical numbers "Gimme Gimme" and "Forget About the Boy" exhibited palpable spirit and charisma at the Thursday afternoon rehearsal. Though the troupe currently rehearses with the guidance of a recorded musical track, the actors will unite with the pit orchestra in a week.
Burmeister explained that a number of factors help her to spot mistakes and offer tweaks to actors' performances.
"You dig into the book. You spend time with it and get to know it," Burmeister said. "Between what you envision and what the kids are doing, you decide what the kids should do based on what's in the script."
The director, who has worked professionally in St. Louis and spent 20 years with the Parkway School District, is now in her sixth year at Ladue High School. She lauded administrators', parents' and community members' appreciation for the arts, which shines through at the well-attended performances.
"Our community has always supported the theatre," Burmeister said. "I think we have a really, very deep cultural mix of people coming from a lot of interests in the arts ... I think parents are interested in exposing students to culture."
Tickets for the show cost $10 and will go on sale a week before the first performance.