Ready for Thoroughly Modern Millie? FHS Musical Opens March 22

Ready for Thoroughly Modern Millie? FHS Musical Opens March 22gallowaycollens1

(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 18, 2014)

Millie Dillmount comes to New York in 1922 to celebrate the new-found independent spirit of women, and to make her way by marrying for money.  That’s the way the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie starts out.

The show is being produced by Ferndale High School Students and debuts March 22 in the school’s newly renovated theatre.  35 students are in the cast, backed up by almost 40 in the crew and orchestra.  The leads include Samantha Berger as Millie, Sean Ceglarek as Jimmy, Joanna Gaden as Miss Dorothy, Truelove Arhin as Mrs. Meers, David Burke as Trevor Graydon and Sharie Branch as Muzzy Van moderntaxHossmere. Intense work on the show began in January, but tap dance lessons began in October.

Working together to make the musical happen, the students learn the value of teamwork, how their commitment affects everyone else and that every role or task in the show is important to the overall success. This year, they’ve also had to learn how to operate all the new equipment in the new theatre.

“The entire cast is looking forward to presenting the play in the newly renovated auditorium. We have an entirely new technical system of lights, sound and video. We have a new stage, new curtains, remodeled lobby, new paneling and paint, and refurbished seats,” said producer Judy Donlin.

McKenna Voss, Junior, plays Alice who is one of the Hotel Priscilla girls. Alice is one of Millie’s friends. “Putting on a musical is a lot of work. The cast rehearses every day after school, often working into the waterworkevenings and weekends, too. Scenes have to be run and re-run until everyone has their blocking and transitions are smooth,” she said.
Senior Jon Kelly plays Ching Ho. “Ching Ho is from Hong Kong, speaks little English, and moved to America with his older brother Bun Foo. They are trying to earn enough money to bring their mother to America. However, the brothers get caught in a life of crime,” Kelly said. “Ching Ho is a bit of a klutz, but he means well.” Jon agrees with McKenna that the show is a lot of work, as they have been rehearsing for months, constructing sets, memorizing lines and cues, practicing dances and songs, and making sure the transitions are clean. He loves working with people who share a love for acting. “This is a great way to make friends and have fun,” he said.

Jonathan Turner is part of the ensemble and also has a role as Kenneth the waiter. “Kenneth is young and free. He does what he wants, but on the job he is loyal to his boss Muzzy Van Hossmere,” Turner said. The energetic freshman is an active student who belongs to other school clubs. “He clears his schedule for sidebar016growtheatre In order to have the rehearsal time that the show requires,” Donlin said. “According to Jonathan, the one thing you need the most is sleep!”

Junior Abbie Burghdoff is on the Sound crew and is one of the student producers of the musical. She is learning the new sound system that was recently installed in the Ferndale theatre and has put together all the sound effects for the show. She finds her job to be a lot of work, but totally worth it. She likes working with the sound crew as they’re always learning something new. Abbie also likes the atmosphere that the theatre creates. “Everyone can express themselves and it’s a wonderful feeling,” she said.

All the students agree that Thoroughly Modern Millie is about a young girl who comes to New York City with a plan. She wants to marry first and find love later. She faces many obstacles, but never shies away. Millie’s plan fails when she “turns the corner”, but ultimately gets a happy ending.

Show Info:

Tickets are $8.00 for adults and $5.00 for students, senior citizens and children. They can be purchased at the door, or at the FHS office, the Kulick Center, the Pleasant Ridge Community Center or online at

Show dates are Saturday March 22 at 7:30, Sunday, March 23 at 3:00 and then Friday March 28 at 7:30, Saturday March 29 at 7:30 and Sunday March 30 at 3:00.

There are also special events:

An Afterglow reception following the opening night (March 22) performance is held in the lobby and is free for all audience members.

There is a Senior Citizen Reception at 2:00 on Sunday March 23 in the FHS Media Center. Members of the Ferndale High School National Honor Society work with us to welcome area senior citizens to the show. The reception is free, but a ticket to the show must be purchased.


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