Review: Thoroughly Modern Millie, Royalty Theatre, until Saturday

Principals from the Sunderland Royalty Theatre production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, left to right; Lorna Breeze as Mrs Meers, Karl Hicks as Mr Graydon, Melissa Banks as  Dorothy Brown, Anna Snell as Muzzy Van Hossmere, Helen Bowie as Milly Dilmont and Antony Stephenson as Jimmy Smith.
Principals from the Sunderland Royalty Theatre production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, left to right; Lorna Breeze as Mrs Meers, Karl Hicks as Mr Graydon, Melissa Banks as Dorothy Brown, Anna Snell as Muzzy Van Hossmere, Helen Bowie as Milly Dilmont and Antony Stephenson as Jimmy Smith.
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THE final show of the Royalty Theatre season went with a swing as an exuberant cast performed Thoroughly Modern Millie.

This was the theatre’s first full-scale musical in its 86-year history and I’ve got to say, it impressed.

The stage was more vibrant and creative than I have ever seen it, immersing the audience in the hustle and bustle of the Roaring 20s.

And the gloriously-costumed cast – a whopping 40 in total – filled the stage in number and in presence.

Protagonist Millie was played with aplomb by Helen Bowie.

Being at the helm of a musical comedy is no mean feat, but Helen coped well, a triple talent in dancing, acting and singing.

She was complemented by love interest Jimmy Smith, played by Antony Stephenson, who displayed a note-perfect command of his voice.

Lorna Breeze also shone as the comic but sinister slave master Mrs Meers, owner of the Hotel Priscilla. Her hapless sidekicks Ching Ho (Ciaran McNally) and Bun Fu (Jonny Chambers) also provided plenty of chuckles, while showing off some spot-on comic timing.

A stand-out performance for me, however, came from Anna Snell, as Muzzy Van Hossmere, a star of the era.

As she is chairman of the theatre, I’m used to seeing Anna behind the scenes, but it was a delight to see her centre stage.

She pulled off glamour-puss Muzzy with ease as she sings the praises of New York in her fabulous penthouse apartment and her voice was the best of the night.

With Millie, the Royalty has certainly upped their game which is most evident in the group scenes.

The Red Light Club in particular and its flapper girls were a feast for the eyes. More musicals, I say.