New York City in the 1920s is coming to the stage at Oklahoma Christian University in the musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” The production is part of OC’s homecoming weekend and is directed by alumnus Chad Anderson. It will run Nov. 4-6 at 8 p.m. in Hardeman Auditorium on the OC campus.
The show, with a cast of 25, focuses on the story of Millie Dillmount, who has just moved to the city to start a new life during the Roaring Twenties. This was a time when women were entering the workforce, and the rules of love and social behavior were changing.
“This is the first chance OC has had to produce this show,” said theater professor Phil Reagan. “It’s an award-winning musical set in the jazzy, flapper days that will be a lot of fun to watch. It’s really a wonderful, comic love story.”
In Millie’s pursuit of marriage for money instead of love, a modern idea in 1922, she meets handsome socialite Jimmy Smith, her striking boss, Trevor Graydon, millionaire heiress Muzzy van Hossmere and the wealthy villain of the story, Mrs. Meers. Each character’s influence on Millie has her second-guessing her modern pursuits. The show features a full score of fun songs and peppy dance numbers.
“We have a lot of dance talent in our cast this year,” said Anderson, who is serving as director of the homecoming musical for the third year in a row. “That’s great because there are some challenging tap numbers in this show.”
He added that choreographer and dance instructor Barbara Berard was instrumental in helping the cast learn the tap numbers.
“She had so much work to do, especially at the beginning of rehearsals,” Anderson said. “She is a wonderful person to work with, and a great asset to OC.”
According to Anderson, the cast’s talent level impressed him throughout the rehearsal process.
“Every year I’m excited to work with the talent we have here at OC,” he said. “Those who attend this musical will see some very talented people, students who will continue to use that talent once they leave OC.”
The leading cast members are mostly upperclassmen from across the country. Millie is played by Kristi Krempges, a senior from Mt. Vernon, Mo. Smith is played by sophomore Brian Wilcox, while Graydon is played by junior Brett Vanderzee, both from Sioux Falls, S.D. Muzzy is played by Courtney Tarpley, a senior from Atlanta, Ga. Meers is played by Laura Bowles, a junior from Fort Gibson, Okla.
Audiences will also see an elaborate set and production.
“There are more wigs in this show than any I’ve been a part of,” Anderson said. “We have an extensive set, and we rented costumes from Music Theater of Wichita. It is a very professional production. Each year we try to raise the bar for the homecoming musical.”
Anderson is very active in the theater community in Oklahoma City. He is a former music and theater teacher at Oklahoma Christian Academy and holds a master of performing arts degree from Oklahoma City University. He is also working on his master of fine arts degree in theater from OU.
Tickets are $12, though senior citizens and groups of 20 or more get in for $10. On Thursday night only, OC employees and students receive free admission with a valid ID. To reserve tickets, call 425-5540. The show is appropriate for children age 10 and up.