There aren’t many musicals that mix tap-dancing, speakeasies, girls in flapper dresses, white slavers and two characters who speak almost entirely in Mandarin.
OK, there’s one.
It’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” the spring musical at Lakeland High School in Shrub Oak.
“Millie” won 6 Tonys, including best musical, in 2002 and starred Sutton Foster as Millie Dillmount, a kid from Kansas who comes to the big city in search of a modern life.
This is music teacher Darrin Grimm’s first year helming the show at Lakeland and he has enlisted Andrew Black — who was already lined up to choreograph “42nd Street” at the district’s Walter Panas High School — to stage the dances.
Black, who was recently dance captain for “42nd Street” at Westchester Broadway Theatre, said the challenge is “to make everything flow and not make it look like ‘blah, blah, blah, musical number, blah, blah, blah, musical number.’”
“The kids are doing a great job of doing that and the kids who already tap are helping those who are just learning,” he said. “It’s very much a team effort.”
Sydney Mitgang and Jamie Lerner are the student dance captains.
Mitgang, who plays the actress, Miss Dorothy Brown, said Black “really pushes us and wants us to do our best, so it’s a good experience for us.”
Senior Julie Ann Tripaldi plays Millie.
“I like that she knows what she wants and that she goes after what she wants,” she said. “She’s a strong character.”
Jennilee Aromando plays the over-the-top white slaver, Mrs. Meers. She played Bloody Mary in “South Pacific” in middle school, so using an Asian accent — even the phony one Mrs. Meers puts on — is not too hard a challenge, she said.
“She’s a good entertainer, but she’s so evil. She’s complex, I love playing her,” she said.
Her henchmen — doesn’t every evil woman needs henchmen? — are Ching Ho (junior Josh Cohen) and Bun Foo (sophomore John Winton), two characters who speak in Mandarin, with English supertitles.
Cohen said they mastered the Mandarin through “complete repetition.”
He said that because the audience will be reading the supertitles as they deliver their lines, “you have to exaggerate your motions to show them what we’re saying, you have to overplay it.”
Winton, as Bun Foo, said one of the benefits of the role is the costume.
“It’s like we get to wear silky pajamas,” he said, doing a little fun dance. “It feels like in this costume you’re supposed to do this.”
If Millie feels like a kid in a strange new world, so does Alan Briones, who plays Trevor Graydon. Until this year, Briones, an aspiring opera singer, was home-schooled.
He played Schroeder in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” in the fall.
“I found my niche in the theater department,” he said.
“He’s the stereotype of the good-looking, successful person that everyone wants to be but nobody really knows exactly what’s going through his head.”
The role includes the “Speed Test” song which, Briones said, highlights a skill he has.
“People tell me I speak faster than a lot of people. I’ve had to work on being understood while saying all those syllables really, really fast,” he said. “It’s a challenge. Much different than opera, which is what I’m used to.”
What: “Thoroughly Modern Millie”
Where: Lakeland High School, 1349 E. Main St., Shrub Oak.
When: 8 p.m. April 23; 2 and 8 p.m. April 24
Tickets: $10 at door; $8 in advance.
With: Matthew Adler, Ali Agha, Joca Alba, Rebecca Amorese, Verardo Andy, Jennilee Aromando, Krysta Bass, Rebecca Bonamico, Emily Boucher, Trevor Braun, Greg Brinkerhoff, Alan Briones, Cheryl Burns, Katie Callery, Cicco Cassie, Joe Castellano, Marissa Castellano, Eric Chang, Roslyn Chu, Cassie Cicco, Josh Cohen, Caitlin Cottrell, Felicia Daniele, Stephanie DaSilva, Alexis Davis, Vanessa Duyer, Michael Elio, Victoria Esser, Thomas Franzem, Kira Goidel, Donna Golden, Becky Goodman, Megan Hertz, Dan Hoernes, Alexia Ioannou, Erin Johnson, Casey Kearney, Alissa Kelly, Brian Kretzchmar, Alana Leff, Allison Lembo, Jamie Lerner, Christina Litavec, Amelia Lopez, Chris Lovell, Brian Marello, Dan Marello, Kelly Rose Marry, Erin Maurno, Quinn McClearnan, Erin McGuinness, Megan McGuinness, Robert Merson, Sydney Mitgang, Nicole Molinari, Sam Nadell, Cara Natale, Mike Nigro, Josh Norberto, Kat O’Brien, Mary O’Neill, Brittany Patane, Katie Paterno, Mike Plitnick, LuLu Pope, Raha Radpavar, Lauren Ramos Aguayo, Nina Rathbun, Christina Rose, Alicen Shaw, Rooney Stephanie, James Terracciano, Nicole Thomas, Sonya Tiratsuyan, Ryne Toto, Julie Tripaldi, Mark Tsao, Rachel Tsao, Zach Vanacoro, Andy Verardo, Maddy Visintaner, Skyler Weinstein, and John Winton.