Flapper fun found in Eisenhower’s ‘Millie’ production

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 19, 2014

High school students from Eisenhower High School will welcome theatergoers to city life in the 1920s when they present “Thoroughly Modern Millie” Feb. 27-March 2.

David Springer, theater director at Eisenhower High School, said the school performed a heavier musical, “Les Misérables,” last year. So this year, it was time to do a show that was lighter, happier, and full of dancing and fun.

“We like to give the kids a different experience each year,” he said. “This one is set in the ’20s, so it gives them a little different feel. The jazz age is a fun time.”

The musical, inspired by the 1967 movie, opened as a Broadway musical in 2002.

Springer said “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is about a Kansas girl who moves to New York City. She wants to be modern in the way the flappers of that period were, and she aspires to look for well-moneyed love while making her mark in the world, he said.

“Her plan doesn’t go exactly the way she figures, but it works out well for her in the end,” he said.

Springer said the Eisenhower production contains a cast of 70 students, and the musical score offers a mix of standard Broadway numbers and jazz. He said the production’s bright ambience may be just the thing to perk up audiences who are stuck in the winter doldrums.

“Especially with this weather we have, people have cabin fever,” he said. “It’s a good time to come out and see this.”

Eisenhower senior Jake Meyers, 17, plays the role of Trevor Graydon III, an insurance company head who gives Millie her first job in New York. According to Meyers, Millie originally makes it her goal to marry Trevor because he is rich.

Meyers explained that the role was a challenge because it calls for a mature, operatic voice.

“I’ve had to practice a lot and try to change my voice for the part,” he said. “It’s been sort of an experimental process.”

Eisenhower senior Catherine Krapfl, 17, plays the lead role of Millie Dillmount. She described her character as a bright-eyed girl who eventually has to choose between her head and her heart while falling in love with another character, Jimmy Smith.

“What makes my character so much fun to play is we’re very similar, in my opinion, because I’ve always been, like, feeling over reason,” she said. “It’s just like a little personal history.”

The Eisenhower High School performing arts department will present “Thoroughly Modern Millie” at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 and 28, and March 1; and at 2 p.m. March 2 at 6500 25 Mile Road, in Shelby Township. Admission is $10, and tickets are available at www.show tix4u.com. Learn more by calling (586) 797-1300.