|Cast: Delaney, Chelsea, Nicole, Elle, Andrea, Eva & Madison.
What makes for an afternoon of compelling theater? Brilliant performances? A good story? In the case of Thoroughly Modern Millie—presented by the City of San Clemente’s Performing Arts Program—it was heart (the intangible spirit that keeps the performers and the audience engaged in a magical relationship until the last moment of the play.)
The performers of the play (7-16 years of age) are part of a camp that meets for two weeks and then culminates in performances at the SC Community Center Theater. Preparing an entire play in only two weeks seemed like enough of a challenge but when the audience heard that the lead sprained her elbow the day prior to the performance, many hoped for the best and prepared for the worst.
The play opened with the captivating voice of Siena Davis, as Millie. With her arm in a sling, she embodied the spunk of the heroine, Millie. Davis and her fellow actors took us on her character’s 1922-based journey from small town girl to a rather “modern” “New York City woman.
The beauty of young performers is the ease with which they “play” and carry the audience beyond the simplicity of the technical elements. Some of the younger audience members jumped out of their seats and began dancing in celebration with their counterparts on stage—thoroughly charming if you ask me. But just when things were getting good, disaster struck.
Mid-play, the lead became ill and could not continue to perform. The Director, not wanting to disappoint all the actors who had worked so hard, decided one of the recreation leaders would continue on in the role. We were all a bit tenuous at this point as a Ms. Maggie Howell (now in jeans, recreation leader shirt and script in hand) assumed the role of Millie.
I heard a gasp from the woman next to me, “She’s good, what a sweet voice," and just like that, the audience and performers were back on track. Notable performances from Randy Winvick (the understudy for Trevor Graydon) and the lovely lilting tones of Helene Wierzbicki, as Ms. Dorothy, complemented the deliciously evil Mrs. Meers played by Julia Lacayo. Meers’ two Asian henchmen, Cole Henriksen and Cooper Johnson, kept us laughing throughout the play.
At the end of the play, I could see the Director, Bill O’Neill, and his production team, celebrating with the actors and then strategizing in preparation for the next show that evening.
It is that type of commitment, the heart to move forward and never give up, that made a truly memorable afternoon at the theater.
- To learn more about San Clemente’s ongoing Performing Arts Program, visit their website http://san-clemente.org or call Community Center office at 949.361.8264.
- Playing next week: Hair at the Chance Theater in Anaheim. Hair was extended and runs through the end of August on Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Make reservations by calling 714.777.3033 or by visiting www.chancetheater.com.
- If you have a live performance in the South County Area that you would like reviewed please email email@example.com and News-n-Views will be there!
Eloise Coopersmith is a south county resident who has spent a lifetime in the theater. A Masters in Theater Arts and a notable experience in acting and producing plays, it is her dream to get everyone off their couches and back into live performance venues