Southeastern goes modern with ‘Millie musical

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 Messenger photos by Mike Munden
Southeastern High School cast members practice a scene from “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” this year’s musical. Jacqueline Severt as Millie (right) is not pleased as she watches Maria Severt as Miss Dorothy (left) and Alex Xayathone as Trevor Graydon meet and exchange pleasantries.
 
Cast members practice music under the direction of Ryan Scherber (right) in the auditorium. The students are: (from left) Eben Wildman as Jimmy, Jacqueline Severt as Millie, Maria Severt as Miss Dorothy and Alex Xayathone as Trevor Graydon.

“Everything today is thoroughly modern” as Southeastern High School jumps a few decades from past musical productions of “Oklahoma” and “My Fair Lady” to the rip roaring ’20s of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Performances are set for Feb. 22-24.

 

Jacqueline Severt plays Millie, the role that won Julie Andrews an Academy Award in the 1967 movie by Richard Morris, who won the Writers Guild Award for Best American Musical.

Severt’s sister, Maria, plays Millie’s best friend Miss Dorothy, Mary Tyler Moore’s character in the movie. Other notables include Muzzy, the role that won Carol Channing an Academy Award, played at Southeastern by Lindsey Schutte.

Muzzy is challenging but fun, said Schutte. “Most people have lines,” she said, “I have paragraphs. I’m the storyteller.”

Muzzy is a stepmother who sends her young adult children, Dorothy and Jimmy, off to find “green glass love.” On their quest, they meet Millie, a young lady from Kansas who has come to New York to experience the “modern” world.

Jimmy is played by Eben Wildman, a freshman and first-time actor. The same is true for Alex Xayathon, who plays Trevor Graydon, Millie’s boss and candidate for marriage, according to her life’s plan.

The play is a good love story and a good musical, according to one of the four faculty directors, Ryan Scherber, who teaches band, choir and general music. The music is more difficult than in past school plays, and there is a lot more of it.

“It’s a different sound and very exciting,” he said.

This is not surprising since the production’s composer, Elmer Bernstein, won an Academy Award for Original Musical Score.

In addition to love and music, the play offers comedy and mystery, promises Clay Dillon who plays Bun Foo, one of two Chinese brothers. The other is Ching Ho, played by Nick Cheney.

“I’m the one who can’t speak English,” Dillon said. “It’s interesting. We have subtitles.”

Asked if anyone in particular was nervous about performing, Dillon quickly replied, “Me!”

“My brother, Zachary, has been in the spotlight his whole life. He was lead and supporting lead all through high school,” he said. “I’ve always been the guy in the back. This is the first year I’ve had more than two lines.”

Several students play more than one part, including Drew Clemons, a junior stepping on stage for the first time this year.

“It’s really not that bad,” he said. “In one scene I’m dancing and in another, I’m her esteemed guest Rodney,” he said pointing to Muzzy.

The rest of the cast members are Paloma Flores, Lorelei Gatten, Kari Nickell, Beth Judy, Marian Benham, Courtney Cromwell, Kelly Hale, Meagan Ruby, Alicia Harvey, Katie Clark, Emily Daniels, Elizabeth Finchum, Rhianna Wyss, Betsy DeWine, Carrie Litteral, Brenda Cox, Ashley Coleman, Jessica Slater and A.J. Huggins.

Crew members are Shelby Bostick, Jared Edwards, Lisa Halley, Jessica McCloskey, Sam Nichols, Heather Rouch, Kayla Shawver, Nichole Siders and Kennedy Stucky.

Student Thuy Truong has designed a t-shirt memorializing the play.

The set was created by students under director and art teacher Laura Madden.

Director Amber Svendsen, who teaches English, said the play is an excellent learning experience for the students because it immerses them in the slang dialogue, dance, music and fashions of the 1920s, a true slice of American history.

Director Kathy McGrath, family and consumer sciences teacher, said, “The kids are working so hard. It’s fun to do this because they put so much into it.”

The Friday and Saturday performances are at 7 p.m. and Sunday’s is at 3 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens.

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