Willow Manor Players Offers Energetic MILLIE

by Walter Bender

The Willow Manor Players of Abington opened their 50th Production, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE on November 12th. MILLIE is the story of a girl from “the sticks” who comes to the big city to become a modern woman…which means (in her definition) getting a job and marrying her boss. “Modern”, you see is actually 1922…different definitions for different times.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE runs through November 20 at Willow Manor Players in Abington PA.

The show, as you might expect from one placed in the Roaring 20’s, is high energy and filled with song and dance. Director Kim Bantle-Taylor has assembled a very talented cast, all of whom keep this show moving nicely. The orchestra, directed by Peter Hilliard, is very good, never overpowering the cast and supporting them throughout the entire show. The set, designed by Bob Shindle, gives the audience a nice feel of the different scenes without slowing the pace with set changes, and the lighting (Mike Gannon, Gerry Mignogno and John Rudolf) helps to offset any scene changes with subtle changes to pull focus away from anything you didn’t need to see.

In a show of this magnitude, the cast has to be spot on, and this one does its job extremely well. In the title role, Tara Bennett is both naïve and worldly, at least in our musical world. I enjoyed her obvious pleasure in performing this role (she describes it in her bio as her “dream role”!) Tom Wexler as Jimmy Smith is endearing in the 20’s “bad boy with the heart of gold” way. These two are the main protagonists, but there is a very large cast of VERY talented people who are in this show. I can’t mention all of them…you’ll just have to go see the show and see what I am talking about. Everyone has a beautiful voice, fits their characters perfectly, and the entire production has a joy and energy to it that makes the evening a lot of fun for the entire audience. The production numbers are a special pleasure…Choreographer Betty Pearce has done a marvelous job, both with designing the dances and getting the cast to work together.

All in all, this is a very fine production with a VERY short run. The show closes on November 20. Make plans to head to see this show…it’s a must-see!!

music by Jeanine Tesori
Lyrics by Dick Scanlan
Book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan
Directed by Kim Bantle-Taylor
November 12 – 20, 2010
Willow Manor Players
Little Theater at
Abington Jr. High School North Campus
Susquehanna & Jericho Roads
Abington, PA 19001
215-659-1890 or 215-576-0992

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