This popular play is based on the 1967 movie of the same name, which in turn is loosely based on the British Musical, Chrysanthemum. The musical is the story of a small-town girl, Millie Dillmount, who goes, or as some put it, ‘escaped,’ to New York City to marry for money instead of love.
This was fairly common in the 1920’s, as women were just being introduced to the workforce at the time. She soon begins to take delight in her somewhat exquisite lifestyle, but things change overnight, as Millie visits a hotel owned by the leader of a white slavery ring in Hong Kong.
Halfway through the first act she is threatened with eviction until a wealthy woman, seeking to see how the 99% live, pays Millie’s rent in exchange for information. As this happens, Millie searches for a job and juggles the possible romantic interests set before her: Jimmy and Trevor.
As they realize the scale of the implied forced prostitution ring, they set up a sting operation for the mastermind of the plan to be caught. The plan succeeds and Millie ends up marrying Jimmy. The leader of the slave ring has a change of heart and marries a potential victim of the cycle. In the end, the ring leader gets a job as a typist, and they all live happy, law abiding lives, forever after.
The show opened on Broadway on April 18, 2002. A full US tour followed in 2003 and in 2005 there was another tour in the UK. Since then, it has been a popular choice for high school productions.
Production wise the musical has its basis in songs formulated by Jeanine Tesori, who produced the music, with lyrics by Dick Scanlan. It’s also unique, in it having two, not three acts. This means that it uses neither the clear fore-center-aft, (or beginning-middle-end,) 3 act system, or the Shakespearean Five Finger Act system; either being used by most modern plays.
San Lorenzo Valley High School students have chosen to act out this wonderful play this winter. It is debuting on March 5th. There will be follow up performances, on the following Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The next Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday will all be at 7PM, except for which is the only performance at 2PM.
I was able to talk with two members of the play about their experience preparing for the show.
What in particular about the play was great?
B: The is terrific, it’s been fun to work and connect with everyone; […] Everyone seems to be on fitting roles. The Director has made the play complete, and on the path to success.
M: Millie, the show itself is a really funny show… And, even though our cast has been through a lot, it has sort of helped us come together, so it will be a big collective effort to put on a good show.
How was rehearsing for the play?
B: Always fun, we get lots of work done, we recently finished blocking the entire play, just cleaning up for the past week [roughly 1 month, by release.]
M: It’s been really good, we’re way ahead of schedule and rehearsal has been fun.
How you think people will feel about the play?
B: I think most people will enjoy, however, some people might not like it, [because it is a musical,] but most people will enjoy it for what it is, the cast is amazing, songs are great; everyone should come out and see it.
M: I think that a lot of people will really like it, especially young children, because it’s really fun, and uplifting. And about white slavery.
Anything else you’d like to add?
B: Everyone should come to see the play, in the new PAC. There will be [teaser] at the grand opening, [on the 21st], and I’m looking forward to opening in the new theater.
How many people auditioned for this production?
Lindsey Duran: Around 30, and its down to about 25.
What restrictions have made it difficult to practice/perform?
Duran: The delays in the theater, and not having music director 5 days of the [school] week.
Is there anything you could change, in a perfect world?
(e.g. “Practicing in a world class auditorium.”)
Duran: Not having the show not delayed so much, and having the scripts earlier.
Why this production in particular?
Duran: It is one my favorite productions, that I participated and worked on, and its really good for high schoolers, because it has a good story, and not too much inappropriate messages.
How do you think students, and parents will feel about the minuscule, yet still ‘controversial’ subject matter of implied forced prostitution and marrying for money alone? Will they care at all?
Duran: It’s not a big plot issue in our show. I don’t see there being an issue; more a comedy aspect than a serious theme, so I see no issue.
Make sure to come see your fellow students perform in this incredible show on March 5th.