Director Crispin Taylor has once again managed to inspire and elicit the best from his cast of WAAPA’s (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) musical theatre students, in this years major musical production, Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Looking a little like Drew Barrymore Millie’s leading lady, Emily Hart, proved last night that she is a star in the making and according to Crispin in The Sunday Times – 16 June, is tipped to be the next big thing since Lucy Durack to exit the corridors of WAAPA.
Hart’s performance of Millie was flawless as she acted, sang and danced like a seasoned professional. From the moment she walked on stage for the opening number you are drawn to her charm and charisma as she commands the audiences attention.
Hart is supported by some equally talented performances; As Mrs. Meers, Bobbie-Jean Henning provides the comical relief with perfect timing. At times the funniest moments occurred by accident, but they were handled with true professionalism. David Ouch and Sean Miley Moore as the brothers Ching Ho and Bun Foo play Mears’ sidekicks delivering their lines in Chinese. Some funny (and clever) moments are achieved via audio visual technology as subtitles are projected above the set.
Clay Roberts as Millie’s love interest, Jimmy Smith, does a beautiful job supporting his leading lady. Jack O’Riley delivers a commanding performance as Mr Trevor Graydon, while Laura Johnston as Miss Dorothy Brown and Jessica van Wyk as Muzzy Van Hossmereas do a fine job of belting out some of the other powerful tunes in the show.
Impressive sets, designed by Steve Nolan, fly in and out seamlessly throughout the performance while choreography, by Jenny Lynnd, seems less subtle than in previous mid year musicals. Tight and perfectly syncronised, dancers tap sitting behind type writers creating the noise of keys hitting paper. Lynnd has also created an opening number which is so full of energy that is reaches a climax usually reserved to whip audiences in to a frenzy just before interval.
Costumes designed by Sally Phipps, are true to the era and with some quick flashy changes, add style to the characters. Highlights included Mrs. Meers oriental outfit, Muzzy Van Hossmere’s gold outfit and Millie’s entire wardrobe throughout the show. The toe tapping score is performed by a well rehearsed orchestra under the skillful baton of David King.
Act two saw the cast competing with a stage full of smoke which produced a spate of coughing in the audience. At various stages it was so thick it had me wondering if the smoke machines had malfunctioned.
It’s easy to see why The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts is regarded as one of the world’s leading performing arts academies as it once again has produced a thoroughly engaging evening of entertainment.
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