Musical fun with fads and flappers in La Jolla High’s ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’

By Emily DeRuy


When Ann Boutelle, director of the theater department at La Jolla High School, decided to involve her advanced drama students in the selection of the next school play, she didn’t anticipate they’d want to tackle one of the trickiest musicals around. But that is exactly what her department has been doing for countless hours over the last several months.

Since January, Boutelle and about 60 students have been working on a production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” a musical with 28 scene changes, dozens of costumes, and a dizzying array of song and dance numbers.

Katheryne Penny leads the cast of 'Thoroughly Modern Mille' at La Jolla High School.

“We were going to do another one,” she said. “But, I opened it up to my students and this was a favorite. It’s one of the biggest musicals you can produce.”

Based on the 1967 movie featuring Julie Andrews, Millie tells the story of a young woman as she makes her way to New York City in the early 1920s in search of a more exciting, modern life. The musical explores the Flapper era, a time when the rules of love and acceptable conduct were in flux.

Featuring rousing jazz numbers and complicated dance routines, Boutelle says Millie provides the perfect opportunity to showcase the talent at La Jolla High. Katheryne Penny, the senior who plays Millie, has been in a number of other plays and musicals.

“Penny is a very well-trained singer, actor and dancer,” said Boutelle. “She’s just phenomenal. And Mona Maruyama, who plays the antagonist, Mrs. Meers, and Hallie Bodenstab, who plays Miss Dorothy, both have extraordinary singing voices. Maddy Harvey provides comic relief with impeccable timing. I did the musical because of these girls’ voices. The show’s just chalk full of extraordinary talent.”

Those working behind the scenes, from the tech students who make up the set crew to parents and other volunteers, have helped with everything from painting scenery to coaching the actors.

“I’d really like to send a great thanks to all the people who have helped pull this together,” said Boutelle. “Former La Jolla High theater teacher, Walt Stewart, my husband Andy, Beth Penny, Diana Ruggerio and Katherine Ward.”

Ward, the costume director, has worked hard to ensure the costumes stay true to the time period – with a few twists thrown in for fun.

She has mixed dropped-waist flapper dresses with pieces from today that draw inspiration from the Roaring Twenties, to create a fun, colorful look. The La Jolla Playhouse, where Millie first premiered, offered to loan costumes from their production to the high school, as well.

Senior Mona Maruyama as Mrs. Meers. Courtesy photos

The students have also received vocal coaching from Diana Ruggerio, who coached the original Millie — Broadway star Sutton Foster. Foster, a Tony Award-winning actress, has played Millie both at the La Jolla Playhouse and on Broadway.

La Jolla High School’s production will run for two weekends in March. Boutelle encourages the community to come to the performances and support the school.

“The show is uplifting and will make everyone happy,” she said. “It’s just wonderful and great fun. The students have poured their time and energy into this. I’m very proud of them.”

If you go

What: La Jolla High School’s ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’

Where: Parker Auditorium, 750 Nautilus St.

When: 7 p.m. March 3, 4, 5 and March 10; 2 p.m. March 12 and 13

Tickets at the door: $10-$15

Reservations: (858) 454-3081 ext. 4402

Rehearsing the 'speed test' scene.

Cast List

Millie: Katheryne Penny

Jimmie Smith: Issac Brieske

Trevor Graydon: Trevor Menders

Miss Dorothy: Hallie Bodenstab

Mrs. Meers: Mona Maruyama

Muzzy Van Hossmere: Jolie Lepselter

Miss Flannery: Maddy Harvey

Bun Foo: Brierna Avila

Chingo Ho: Lachezar Nikolov

Dancers: Savannah Visser, Andrea Nathan, Maddy Harvey, Hannah Orr, Hallie Bodenstab, Trevor Menders and Katheryne Penny

Chorus: Ashley Stratton, Hannah Orr, Chantal Gish, Tatiana Santos, Amy Guerts, Lexi Chipman, Nicci Jardin, Sara Phelps, Andrea Nathan, Jaco Beneducci, Brendan Hickman, Savannah Visser

Related posts:

  1. La Jolla High School drama department presents ‘From Up Here’
  2. New look, but it’s still the same La Jolla Comedy Store
  3. Delightful score spices up ‘Emma’s’ romantic schemes at the Old Globe Theatre
  4. J*Company Youth Theatre premiere explores the girl who was Anne Frank
  5. Perils of romance come to the stage in new musical ‘Emma’ at The Old Globe in Balboa Park

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Posted by Staff on Mar 3, 2011. Filed under A & E, Theater. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Musical fun with fads and flappers in La Jolla High’s ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’”

  1. Guest

    It was such a fantastic show! WOW!

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