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'Thoroughly Modern Millie' to be Performed at Greenberg Theatre

By Maralee Csellar

The high-spirited Broadway-hit musical Thoroughly Modern Millie will be performed by American University’s Department of Performing Arts at the university’s Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre Thursday, Oct. 23, to Saturday, Oct. 25, and Thursday, Oct. 30 to Saturday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m., with a matinee performance on Oct. 25 at 2 p.m.

Thoroughly Modern Millie is based on the 1967 motion picture screenplay by Richard Morris, with new music and lyrics by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan. The play follows the search by a young woman, Millie Dillmount (performed by sophomore Courtney Cilman from Vienna, Va.), for a new life and love in 1920s New York City, a hot spot for arts, culture, nightlife, and high society post World War I.

Embracing the flapper lifestyle, Millie soon has new friends in Jimmy (senior Jeremy King from Laurel, Md.) and Dorothy (junior Shalia Sakona from Bellefonte, Pa.), a job, and a rich boss (senior Vishal Vaidya from Burtonsville, Md.). In a time and place where society’s rules and women’s roles are changing, Millie is determined to marry for money, but her plans are complicated when she discovers her landlord’s plot to kidnap her friend and sell her into slavery in China.

Earlier this month, book writer and lyricist Scanlan led a workshop with the cast, offering his expertise and insight into the production and characters. In 2002, Scanlan was nominated for two Tony Awards for his work with Thoroughly Modern Millie. He worked one on one with students and answered their questions about the show. He also explained how certain choices he’s made with the show keep it “funny and fresh and political.”

Though a light-hearted reflection on indulgent times, Thoroughly Modern Millie deals with some serious undertones. “The 1960s film upon which Millie is based presents race and ethnicity in a manner that 21st century audiences would likely find enormously offensive,” says director Cara Gabriel. Diversity issues are a part of everyday life, especially important to AU’s student body, which comes from nearly 140 countries. Gabriel hopes that this theme will resonate with the AU community and inspire audience members to “start a modern conversation of their own.”


Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre: The 300-seat theatre, which opened in spring 2003, includes a stage, orchestra pit, dressing rooms, improved lighting, acoustics, scene and costume design shops, and great visibility from every seat.

Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 AU community and seniors, $5 students. Tickets for AU’s performing arts events at the Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre are available online.