Arts and Entertainment

BPA’s Camp Broadway puts on a thoroughly modern 'Millie'

Claire Hosterman as Millie, flanked by Haley Robinson (left) and Brooke Schulte. The Camp Broadway production, directed by Jessica Low, opens Wednesday at BPA.  -
Claire Hosterman as Millie, flanked by Haley Robinson (left) and Brooke Schulte. The Camp Broadway production, directed by Jessica Low, opens Wednesday at BPA.
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From the standpoint of both plot and prep, Camp Broadway’s production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” may be the perfect vehicle for young people.

“The main story is Millie’s journey,” said director Jessica Low.

“Millie,” first a 1967 Academy Award-winning musical film and then a 2002 Broadway production, presents the story of sassy and plucky young Millie Dillmount, who’s left her native Kansas to enter the flapperish fray of 1922 New York.

With a charmingly independent calculation that speaks volumes about both the 1920s depicted in the musical and the late 1960s in which the Julie Andrews film premiered, Millie bobs her hair and enters the workforce as a stenographer, setting her matrimonial sights on her wealthy boss.

She’s diverted, however, by the attentions of sweet-but-broke paper clip salesman Jimmy Smith.

Will Millie choose love or money? Amidst both sweet and unsavory sub-plots, a madcap musical emerges that’s the definition of vacation season fun.

Each summer for the last several years, Camp Broadway has created an opportunity for older youths on the island to stretch their skills in the realm of acting, singing and dance.

Those interested in working behind the scenes gain valuable experience too, from makeup to stage management to lighting and tech work.

In a lot of ways, it’s a matter of increased ownership, since students help run most aspects of each production, both in front of the curtain and backstage.

The program – formerly known as Camp Teen Broadway – operates under the umbrella of BPA Theatre School, and many of the young people who participate in these summer productions have been part of the theatre school since they were in grade school.

Low, a BPA regular, and Deirdre McCollom, who has helped oversee stage management for numerous Camp Broadway productions, agree that “Millie” has stretched many participants in new ways.

The show has taught them, as McCollom puts it, “things that will enable them to be multitalented – the fundamentals.”

The dancers, for instance, many of whom come from the Bainbridge Dance Center, are enlarging their acting chops. The actors, in turn, are gaining confidence in movement and dance.

“These particular kids, we’ve known them for a number of years,” Low added. “It’s been fun to get in there and push them to the next level.”

In that way, Camp Broadway, like “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” represents a theatrical journey of its own.

“I think a big part of what we do in theater school is building life skills, and teamwork,” Low said. “I love making them realize they could do something they thought they couldn’t do.”

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