Theatre review: Thoroughly Modern Millie

Michelle Collins as Mrs Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie PIC: Darren Bell

Michelle Collins as Mrs Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie PIC: Darren Bell

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IT’S the lightest of romantic comedies, and it struggles to get round the old-fashioned racial stereotypes in the original 1967 film. Yet if you want an evening of sheer, blissful entertainment in Edinburgh this weekend - with fabulous dancing, and a gorgeous 1920s New York set - then Thoroughly Modern Millie is your show, not least because of a storming star performance from lovely Strictly Come Dancing star Joanne Clifton, who dances like a dream, sings pretty well, and also develops some fine comic body-language, in the role of our heroine, Millie Dillmount.

Thoroughly Modern Millie ****

Edinburgh Playhouse

Millie is a girl from Kansas who arrives in Roaring Twenties New York with just one ambition; to marry not for love, but for money. Love intervenes, of course; but meanwhile, Millie’s room-mates at the Priscilla Hotel keep disappearing, thanks to a white slavery plot masterminded by hotel concierge Mrs Meers, with the help of Chinese migrants Ching Ho and Bun Foo.

In Rocky Plews’s genial production, this 2002 version of the story provides the Chinese men with a human back-story, told in Chinese with surtitles, and finally transforms Ching Ho into a romantic hero. With Michelle Collins turning in a bizarre pantomime performance as Mrs Meers, though, this attempt at transformation often fails to convince; and it’s left to the gorgeous Joanna Clifton - with an excellent Sam Barrett as her love Jimmy, and a fine supporting cast - to remind us that however crazy its plot, Thoroughly Modern Millie is one of the most tuneful and enjoyable musicals in the book, from its brilliant title song, to its lovely, light-touch final curtain.

JOYCE MCMILLAN

*Edinburgh Playhouse until 4 February, and King’s Theatre, Glasgow, 6-11 February

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