Thoroughly Modern Millie
Norwich Theatre Royal
> Theatre Royal, Norwich
The 1967 movie was a huge hit for Julie Andrews and is one of those films that you can watch over and over again and still find charming.
This stage version retains the film's Roaring '20s setting and basic storyline but has many new songs and dance routines - a modern, modern Millie, you might say.
As a West End show, it's a big production, with plenty of cash splashed around on the set and especially the costumes, which are rumoured to have cost in excess of half a million pounds.
And there's a large chorus line, too, which also makes you feel that you're actually seeing something decent rather than a scaled-down version of a capital show.
This is an incredibly fast moving piece as there is a lot of plot to get through and the cast work extremely hard. Donna Steele, who was Amanda Holden's understudy in the London production, dominates and gives a first-rate performance as the geeky Millie who is desperate to be à la mode but just can't pull it off.
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As one audience member pointed out, she's very Shirley MacClaine in her mannerisms, with arms flying around as she gesticulates wildly.
Lesley Joseph, best known from her days as Dorien Green in telly's Birds of a Feather, is a delight as the cunning Mrs Meers and injects a bit of much-needed humour. Grace Kennedy, who used to have her own TV series, provides the glamour and sex appeal as nightclub singer Muzzy Van Hossmere.
For my money, the second half was far better than the first. I found the American accents hard to pick up in the early scenes and you rather felt as if you were invited to a party where you didn't know anyone.
When the cast were allowed to show off their talents and dance, such as in the Speed Test routine, they were superb, while songs such as I'm Falling in Love with Someone by Miss Dorothy (Robyn North) and Mr Graydon (Andrew Kennedy) again revealed their abilities.
I've seen Norwich audiences more enthusiastic in their reactions and people didn't come away singing or humming any of the tunes - where's Julie Andrews when you need her?