Asides from the obvious overtures to dancing, Stepping Out could be said to describe the momentary release from day-to-day worries that the women find. If life isn’t about moments like these, what’s it all for?
As someone raised on West End musicals, I’ve grown used to grand spectacles, produced on a huge scale and a big budget, with lavish sets and an army of stage crew. It never would have occurred to me that you could present a show of that kind in a fringe theatre, with a cast of twelve and a band of five. Yet Thoroughly Modern Millie, at the tiny and intimate Landor Theatre, does just that – and is easily as entertaining as any of those big productions.
Derived in 2002 from the 1967 Julie Andrews movie, Thoroughly Modern Millie is thoroughly old fashioned. It’s sexist: all the women are actresses or typists; racist: landlady Mrs Meers feigns orientalism and speaks pantomime Cantonese to her migrant Hong Kong laundrymen; heteronormative: every flapper’s ambition is to secure a rich businessman husband and even white slavery is dismissed as “well, it’s one way to get a man”, but so heartwarming and jolly you can almost forgive its cartoon morality.