Tap ‘til you drop is the motto this week at the Collins Center, where members of the Andover High School Drama Guild are perfecting their moves for their big flapper dance musical opening next week.
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” gets the nod for the Andover High School Drama Department’s fall musical and director Susan Choquette said it’s the first dance musical for the group since 2008’s “A Chorus Line.”
“We haven’t done a big tap musical in my tenure here,” said Choquette, who leads the Drama Department. “This one is silly and fun.”
Set in 1922, the play focuses on Millie Dillmount, a naive, young woman from Kansas who finds herself in the midst of a series of madcap adventures in New York City when she sets her sights on marrying her wealthy boss. Embracing the styles of the day, Millie becomes a flapper, bobbing her hair and wearing short skirts while dancing the night away at speakeasy clubs.
The show is based on the 1967 film starring Julie Andrews. It opened on Broadway in 2002, and was the recipient of 11 Tony nominations, winning six, including Best Musical and Best Actress for Sutton Foster.
The Andover High adaptation features a cast of 45 students presenting the show’s big ensemble production numbers that are heavy on song and tap dance.
Another 20-plus students have been assembled to run the technical side of things backstage and several director’s assistants are also helping with props, lights and other behind-the-scenes responsibilities.
Choquette credits costume coordinator Karen Spinale and her crew for lending their talents to designing the show’s “incredible” period outfits, which she said will transport audiences right back to the roaring ‘20s.
The sound track will also take theater-goers back with standard songs from the 1910s and 1920s mixed with music by contemporary artists, including Baby Face. Choquette said that given the challenging score, professional musicians have been summoned to fill the orchestra, with some students sitting in with them as well.