Director of Thoroughly Modern Millie speaks of play production

Jack Kopanski

Director of both Kent State’s theatre program and the university’s upcoming musical, Terri Kent, held “The Director Speaks,” Monday morning to talk about Kent State’s upcoming production of the musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

According to Kent State’s website, Thoroughly Modern Millie tells the story of a small-town girl named Millie, who travels to New York to embrace the flapper life, but things don’t go as planned in this “thoroughly modern” world.

Kent talked about how this play was special to her because her grandmother was the type of person being portrayed by Millie.

“My grandmother was born in 1901, and in 1922, the year the play takes place, (she) was 21 years old, and she was a flapper,” Kent said. “She was born Mildred, but came to be known by her friends as ‘Millie.’”

Last semester, the university put on productions of both “The Servant of Two Masters,” and “Side Show.” Kent also talked about why it was decided on to do a musical dance number this semester.

“A lot goes into it,” Kent said. “We needed a big dance show. Side Show, which we did in the fall, was not a dance show. It relies a lot of vocal storytelling, so this was a great contrast to that piece.”

Kent says it is important to keep true to the story, while also incorporating her own vision of the story including adding certain elements that might not have been around in the 1920s.

“I think it goes back to the whole idea of the style being pastiche,” Kent said. “So it’s a celebration of that time period and of all those plays structured like a classic American musical. With the idea of current technology, there are things that were capable of doing, that obviously wouldn’t have been capable of doing in 1922.”

Kent said an example of something that did not take place in modern musicals, would be Millie using her head and chest voice combined together to acquire the effect of belting very high (a way to sing in a higher pitch.)

“An example would be that Millie uses her head and chest voice combined together to acquire the effect of belting very high. That is something that did not take place in early musicals.”

As this is only a university show, and not a broadway production, the budget for this musical was much lower than a professional rendition. Kent, however, says that is not a hindrance to production of the musical.

“Poverty breeds creativity,” Kent said. “What a group of children could do with a refrigerator box was so inspiring and artistic and beautiful. So we created a framework for the show, and allowed those changes to be exposed.”

Performances will be held at E. Turner Stump Theatre in the Center for Performing Arts building, from Friday, Feb. 26 through Sunday, March 6. There will be no showings on  Monday, Feb. 29 and Tuesday, March 1.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Jack Kopanski is the performing arts reporter for The Kent Stater, contact him at [email protected]