Set in the roaring 1920’s in New York City, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is anything but boring. And at The Roxy Theatre, there is no exception.
The play tells the story of small-town girl Millie Dillmount, who moves to the Big Apple in search for a husband with money, not in search for a husband with heart. Instead, she soon finds herself falling for Jimmy Smith, a man who comes off as a jerk with nothing to his name but a slick attitude.
From the moment I walked into the theater, I was amazed at the set Andrew Rodriguez-Trianna designed for the musical. It was absolutely spectacular. For a second I thought I was in Times Square watching the musical on Broadway, not in Miami watching the musical at a performing arts center where children as young as 10 were acting on stage.
Veronica Diaz, a junior at the University of Miami, brought the musical to life in her lead role as Millie. A true triple threat is what one would call her in the artsy world — she could dance, act and sing any note.
There is a difference between playing the part well and becoming the part. Diaz became Millie from the moment she walked on that stage. She took you back to the 1920’s. Her hair, her costuming, her body language — everything was done to perfection.
Jimmy Smith, played by 19-year old Alexander Zenoz, also led the production to become a huge success. Throughout the play, he was precise in his dance execution, voice and acting. He had to play many roles within his own character, which he mastered. He was funny when he had to be funny, mean when he had to be mean, loving when he had to be loving and fierce when he had to be fierce.
As a pair, Diaz and Zenoz had wonderful chemistry. Throughout the production, there were moments where I didn’t want to blink because I didn’t want to miss anything. A scene when they were both in jail after a night out on the town gave me goose bumps.
As Millie is fast asleep in her cell, Jimmy professes his love for her. Moments later, their first kiss takes place. The directors couldn’t have chosen a better duo to play the two lovebirds.
But, the lead roles were not the only success of this musical. The ensemble was in sync in their movements and lyrics throughout the play. Other secondary lead roles such as Mrs. Meers, Dorothy Brown, Muzzy and Trevor Graydon deserved a standing ovation – and, they all got one.
Mrs. Meers, played by 15-year old Gina Fonseca was the comedian of the show. The audience laughed at almost everything she did because she did it so well. As for Dorothy Brown, Muzzy and Trevor Graydon — they had their funny moments, too.
In many musicals played by such a young cast, the music is usually on an acoustic CD. However, the music played by “Thoroughly Modern Millie” at the Roxy Theatre was live, and played by an outstanding orchestra from the Greater Miami Youth Symphony.
The orchestra consisted of four reed players, one piano player, one guitar player, one bass player, two violin players, one cello player, one horn player and four trumpet players. None of them missed a beat.
For such a young cast, ranging from ages 10 to 23, their performance was close to Broadway material. Their professionalism on stage was admirable and their passion for musical theatre shined through their performance.