A thoroughly modern delight to open Murray Park Amphitheater season
May 24, 2018 01:06PM
● By Shaun Delliskave
Olivia Rae Casper as Millie and Mike Romney as Jimmy star in Murray Park Amphitheater’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” (Photo courtesy Lynn Chatterton)
By Shaun Delliskave|[email protected]
Flappers and tappers will inaugurate the newly renovated Murray Amphitheater’s stage with “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” The musical opens the summer season and runs June 21-23, 25-27.
The musical is based on the 1967 film of the same name; the music is by Jeanine Tesori with lyrics by Dick Scanian. It’s the story of a small-town girl, Millie Dillmont, a fearless young lady fresh from Salina, Kansas, who is determined to experience life. She sets out to see the world in the rip-roaring ‘20s. With high spirits and wearing one of those new high hemlines, she arrives in New York to test the “modern” ideas she had been reading about back in Kansas. Millie exclaims, “I’ve taken the girl out of Kansas. Now I have to take Kansas out of the girl!” Her life takes an unexpected turn when she enters the Priscilla Hotel. The 2002 original Broadway version of the musical was the winner of six Tony Awards, including best musical.
Veteran director Candy Tippetts helms the Murray production, and she directed last year’s Murray Arts Council’s offering of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Tippetts has been directing musical theater since 1998 and has directed at The Grand Theater in Salt Lake City, the Bountiful Performing Arts Center, and Midvale Performing Arts Center.
“The best part of this production for me as the director is the bonds that form between the cast and crew. We become a family and have even had a family home evening watching a 1920’s movie musical together,” said Tippetts.
The cast includes many seasoned performers including Olivia Rae Casper handling the lead role, Millie Dillmont. Currently attending Utah Valley University, where she is earning her BFA in musical theater, Casper has previously been seen as Emily in “Our Town,” Rusty in “Footloose!,” Dolly in “Hello, Dolly!,” and Fantine in “Les Miserables,” the role for which she won Best Actress at the National Youth Arts Awards in 2016.
Playing the leading man, Jimmy Smith, opposite of Casper is Mike Romney, who also choreographs the show. Romney was recently seen on stage in “Music Man” at Hale Centre Theater. He performed on the amphitheater stage last summer as Enoch Snow in “Carousel.” He is a past member of the BYU International Folk Dance Ensemble and has been acting since 2003.
Alexie Baugh is portraying the lead role of Miss Dorothy Brown. She has been performing since she was 11 in productions at Pages Lane Theater, Hale Centre Theatre, The Empress, Draper Arts Council and Murray Arts Council productions. She graduated from Weber State University with a degree in theater teaching and now teaches theater at Highland High School.
Other supporting cast members include Zach Spurlock, who plays Trevor Graydon and has performed in shows at Walt Disney World; Peggy Bills plays Miss Flannery—she has been in theater and television all over Utah and Boston including at BYU, Hale Centre Theatre, Centerpointe Theater, Grand Theatre, and Wheelock Family Theatre in Boston; Julie Blatter will play Mrs. Meers and has performed in New York City, The Grand Theater, Hale Centre Theater, and Murray Arts in the Park.
Supervising backstage will be stage manager Katie Revels and costumer Alyssa Mary Beth Bell.
Tippetts is excited about the production. “For the audience I think the draw for these performances is the amazing talent on the stage, the incredible voices and jaw-dropping choreography. The show is jam-packed with tongue-in-cheek humor and lightheartedness. You won’t be disappointed by this production.”