By Sophia Ricco
Swing into the roaring ’20s, as “Thoroughly Modern Millie” turns back time on the Huntington High School stage.
The classic musical transports audiences to the booming jazz age in New York. The show follows Kansas girl Millie Dillmount as she finds her way as a “modern” woman in the big city, with the help of show-stopping numbers and a diverse cast of characters. Director Michael Schwendemann said he was drawn to “Thoroughly Modern Millie’s” lively soundtrack.
“One of the things I love about the show is the score. The songs are quite memorable and kinda draw you in that jazz age time,” Schwendemann said. “They make you wanna throw on your flapper dress and join the party.”
Playing the role of Millie, junior Abby Semelsberger feels it’s a dream come true to play the iconic role, especially since she grew up listening to the musical.
“It’s definitely had its challenges as a 2019 teenager playing a 1920s young adult, but it’s been so rewarding to play this character that I love,” Semelsberger said. “She’s taught me so much about bravery, going after what you want, and not apologizing for who you are, which I admire so much.”
On her path to becoming modern, Millie encounters caring, comical and conniving characters. Semelsberger said she feels fortunate to have known her co-star Izzy Cahill, who plays Miss Dorothy, and love interest Jimmy Smith, played by Kennan Lyons, for many years. The natural chemistry is evident as they share the stage.
“I’m so lucky to have an entire cast that I’m such great friends with, they’re all amazing people outside of being incredibly talented,” Semelsberger said.
A live pit orchestra of student musicians brings the show’s jazzy tunes and swinging serenades to life.
Lyons said he enjoys his solo “What Do I Need with Love?”, as Jimmy sings of his inner conflict and feelings in a jail cell, while Semelsberger is looking forward to her upbeat solo, “Gimme Gimme”.
“The ’20s is that jazz age, with flappers and speakeasies,” Lyons said. “It’s a whole new scene. It’s that time people had a spark for individuality. I feel the ’20s is just this breath of fresh air with opportunity.”
The cast has immersed themselves in the roaring ’20s, studying the walk, talk and dress of the era. Before hitting the stage, Schwendemann had each cast member analyze their character’s motivation, background and relationships.
“Something I told the kids today is, ‘no one is bigger than the production,’” Schwendemann said. “We need to be a well-oiled machine and we’re only as strong as our weakest link.”
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” hits the Huntington High School stage on April 5, 7:30 p.m. and April 6, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets sold at the door for $10. The Saturday matinee is free for seniors. For more information, call 516-749-0741.