Franklin Regional students prepare to stage ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’
Last year, as “Young Man with Clipboard” in Franklin Regional’s production of “42nd Street,” junior Jonah Hartman only had one line to worry about: “Yeah.”
On the afternoon of Valentine’s Day, he was dangling at the edge of a faux skyscraper window-ledge, pleading with the woman his character loves during rehearsal for this year’s musical,“Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
Set in New York City in 1922, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” tells the story of young Millie Dillmount from Kansas, who comes to New York in search of a new life for herself. Her grand plan is to find a job as a secretary for a wealthy man and then marry him. However, her plan goes completely awry. As Millie’s would-be suitor Jimmy Smith, Hartman’s got quite a few more lines to remember this year.
“The past two years I’ve just had a little role where I did my part and then got to hang out with my friends,” said Hartman, 16. “This is more stressful, but it’s still a lot of fun.”
It also doesn’t help that he’s normally a bass, and is playing a role that calls for a bit of tenor singing — one note in particular.
“I just couldn’t get it,” Hartman said. “Just a couple days ago, I finally was able to hit it without feeling by voice get stressed.”
Speaking of stress, senior Megan Swift, 17, has to contend with being kidnapped during the musical as her character, the wealthy Miss Dorothy Brown. But being taken hostage is the least of her worries.
“The dance number ‘Ah Sweet Mystery of Life/Falling in Love’ was a challenge,” Swift said. “It took a little while to get the lifts down while singing.”
It is also Swift’s final year in the high-school drama guild.
“It’s going to be very sentimental for me,” she said. “I’ve made so many of my best memories here, and it’ll be hard to leave that.”
Senior Charlie Hough, 17, is working on his gruffness to play business tycoon Trevor Graydon, who ends up in a circle of comedic — and romantic — entanglement during the course of the show. But Hough is dealing with stress of a different kind: waiting to hear back on his college applications
“This is what I want to do for a career,” he said. “And arts-school acceptance letters don’t come out until March.”
For director Mark Wolfgang, this year’s show is an old friend: he staged “Thoroughly Modern Millie” in 2007, and can bring that experience to rehearsals that only began two months ago.
“I was able to look at what we did before and build on it to meet the talents of this year’s cast,” he said. With 80 cast members — about 120 students in all, including stage crew, orchestra and others — there is plenty of talent to go around.
“It’s a good, fun show,” Wolfgang said. “There’s so much in the world that’s not funny; I just want to provide shows that make people laugh.”
Tickets are $14 for adults and seniors, and $8 for students.
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” will run Feb. 28 and March 1-3 at Franklin Regional Senior High School, 3200 School Road in Murrysville. For more, or to purchase tickets, see FRHS musical.com.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .