Thoroughly Modern Millie at Ferneham Hall review: ‘The always watchable Helen Stoddart can dance up a storm’

SDMS in rehearsal for their production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, which is at Ferneham Hall, Fareham, November 7-10, 2018
SDMS in rehearsal for their production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, which is at Ferneham Hall, Fareham, November 7-10, 2018

South Downe Musical Society are at Ferneham Hall this week with the 2002 adaptation of the 1967 musical film, Thoroughly Modern Millie.

The filmic Millie is a soaring soprano; the musical Millie – the always watchable Helen Stoddart – is a belt-alto and, boy, can Stoddart belt. She’s also nimble on her feet and can dance up a storm; she is given opportunity a-plenty to do so.

READ MORE: Leading lady Helen Stoddart’s return to the stage

Becky Musgrave, (Miss Dorothy) is carving herself a nice niche within the company. A lighter voice than Stoddart’s with an admirable range (witness her final note in Falling In Love With Someone) she’s an easy performer to watch and listen to. Stalwart Jane Pegler’s vocal star-turn as Muzzy van Hosmere is complemented by subtle vocal touches in her spoken performance, too. Emma Brown’s Mrs Meers is nicely drawn.

Banner-waving for the men are Matt Gibbins as Jimmy Smith and Nick Williams as Trevor Graydon. Gibbins is possessed of a mighty range and is a sharp, precise and impressive dancer. Williams is, perhaps, a touch young for Graydon, but makes the most of the comedy and sings it well.

Opening night was dogged with technical issues – sound problems, clumsy scene-changes, misbehaving props – and perhaps greater directorial attention need be given to the ensemble who, at one point, were bottlenecked as they all exited stage-right at the same time. Elsewhere they could have been used to fill a night-club populated by one couple.

Alan Pring’s band are excellent.