Purdy cast wow audiences in ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’

Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Purdy High School Sophomore M’Kena Propps shows off her Charleston skills as the title character in Purdy High School’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie, Jr.” Propps is both a student and a teacher at the Mary Beck School of Dance in Monett. Contributed photo

Students tap Roaring 1920s with spirited performance

The Purdy High School Music Department presented two performances of “Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr.” in early November.

The annual fall musical on Nov. 1 and 2, under the direction of vocal music teacher Lauren Lee, took students on a spirited journey into the Roaring Twenties, complete with period dances and costumes.

The Purdy High School “Thoroughly Modern Millie, Jr.” The cast, from left. are: Joy Grace, Heather Greenway, Anna Hoffman, Makayla Mazza, Mercedes Harris, Emma Mitchell and Jacob Corter. Back row: Tatum Burt, Drew Graham, M’Kena Propps, Ryan Mitchell, Haylie Harris, Shana Whisman and Levi Maddocks. Photo by Linda Van Deuren

“The two of us have just clicked,” said sophomore M’Kena Propps of her co-star Ryan Mitchell. “We didn’t really know each other very well before ‘Millie,’ but now we yell random lines from the show at each other in the hallway!”

Propps, as title character Millie Dillmount, and Mitchell, as Jimmy Smith, were joined onstage by veteran Purdy musical performers Shana Whisman (Mrs. Meers), Haylie Harris (Bun Foo), Joy Grace (Miss Flannery), Tatum Burt (Miss Dorothy Brown), Drew Graham (Mr. Trevor Graydon) and Heather Greenway (Helen) and a host of student actors making their debut appearances, to tell the story of a small-town girl with big Manhattan dreams in the popular Broadway production.

Director Lauren Lee declared her 10th musical production at Purdy a triumph.

“I received a T-shirt as a gift that reads, ’Some people dream of meeting their favorite musicians. I teach mine,’" Lee said. "I can’t begin to describe the pride and joy that fills my heart when my kids perform. ‘Millie’ was so much fun!”

Co-director Linda Van Deuren, whose Intro to Theater class built sets, designed costumes, ran lights, sold tickets and developed promotional materials for the show, echoed Lee’s sentiments.

“I love seeing students find themselves loving theater, both on and off the stage,” Van Deuren said.

Ryan Mitchell said last year Van Deuren encouraged him to try his chops in acting and taking her Introduction to Theater class.

"I did, and as it turns out I love theater," Mitchell said. "It’s something I want to continue to pursue. I definitely want to be in the musical every year. Being a part of ‘Millie’ this year may have changed my life.”