REVIEW: Thoroughly Modern Millie at The Kings Theatre, Southsea

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OK. Turn up Francesca Strongitharm-Cornell’s microphone and get the volume of the (frankly brilliant) orchestra under control as they sometimes drown the onstage vocals, both spoken and sung.

That’s the sum total of the negatives. Now the good stuff.

In a city that seems to have more amateur companies per square mile than, well, the rest of the planet combined, this cast can be considered among the very, very best

All through Portsmouth Grammar School’s Thoroughly Modern Millie I reminded myself that I was watching 12 to 18-year old amateur, untrained performers. In a city that seems to have more amateur companies per square mile than, well, the rest of the planet combined, this cast can be considered among the very, very best.

Caitlin Hoddle as Millie holds the stage like an experienced professional. Her singing is top-notch and if her belt-voice requires a little more depth to it, well – that will come with age and experience. Rebecca Emerton as Miss Dorothy, Laura Verrechia as Mrs Meers and the aforementioned Miss Strongitharm-Cornell as Muzzy are – by no means – also-rans in this race. There is, genuinely, no weak-link in this cast.

The men, too, are excellent. Robert Merriam is going to develop into a fine tenor as his voice matures and his delivery of dialogue is a lesson to many. Robert Weekes is a fine Trevor Graydon and my hats off, as always with this show, to Rory Greenwood and Jonathan Yang for mastering the fiendish Mandarin dialogue.

Top, top marks.