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Chasing dreams with 'Millie'



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From left, Rebecca Turner, Mason Van Gieson, Sarah Milano and Katie Hokanson perform "Forget About the Boy." Photo by Wendi Reardon (click for larger version)
February 08, 2012 - Millie Dillmount follows her dreams to New York City in "Thoroughly Modern Millie," presented by the Clarkston High School Drama Club, Feb. 16-18.

"Millie is the classic, strong 1920s new woman," said Mason Van Gieson, stepping into the role as Millie. "She does have a vulnerable side. She is from a small town and just wants to do something more in life."

The cast describes the performance as energetic, suspenseful, comical, entertaining and heartwarming.

The audience joins Millis as she adjusts to her new life while problems arise when she checks into the Hotel Priscilla for Single Women - where young women are disappearing.

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"There are bad people," said Joe Sharkey, playing Bun Foo, along with his brother Ching Ho, are two immigrants behind the residents missing in order to bring their mother to America from Hong Kong. "I am not bad. I just want my mom to come to America so I am working in a bad business."

Along the way Millie also finds following her dreams isn't easy as she thought it would be. She wanted to marry for fame and fortune, a choice she thought was logical, but finds her heart pulling her in another direction.

"There is an internal struggle to go with her gut feeling and go with true love," Van Gieson said. "Or marry a business man and have a nice, comfy life. She is very determined and is very set on following her dreams."

Helping her to decide are her friends - Dorothy Brown who she meets at Hotel Priscilla, played by Taylor Brown, and Muzzy, played by Eileen Plunkett.

"My character is kind of above everybody else," said Plunkett. "She is older and has gone through life and has traveled a lot of places. She knows about love and she secretly guides Millie."

Jimmy Smith, played by Conor Foley, also helps guide Millie.

"Jimmy is a city boy through and through. He is a fast talker, fast thinker, fast actor," said Foley. "He does what he wants when he wants to do them – sometimes that involves meeting some girls."

"Until he meets Millie of course," said Van Gieson, giving Foley a stern look. "Right?"

Foley coughed, pointing out the audience will have to come to the show to find out.

"You will leave with a smile," said Smith.

"There are some twist along the way so a couple of surprise," said Van Gieson. "The music is definitely my favorite part. The show is really well written and is great. It is really high energy and the tap numbers are fun."

Smith added her favorite part is being a part of the production in her senior year at Clarkston.

"It is so bittersweet," she said about her third year. "It is so cool meeting new people. It is seeing everyone coming together and being so close."

Foley added every song is great.

"There is not a bad song," he said. "The set is amazing, too."

"Thoroughly Modern Millie" is being performed at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16 and 17 and 2 p.m. on Feb. 18.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and senior citizens. They are sale at the high school box office and can be reserved by calling 248-623-4024 or in person during lunch on weekdays from 10:45 a.m. to noon.

"Thoroughly Modern Millie" is performed in cooperation with Music Theatre International. The "Thoroughly Modern Millie" book is by Richard Henry Morris. Music is by Jeanine Tesori and lyrics by Dick Scanlan.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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