Filled with frisky flappers, dashing leading men and a dragon-lady of a villainess audiences will love to hate,Thoroughly Modern Millie is a wonderful evening of madcap merriment – the zany 1920’s musical that has taken Broadway by storm! Based on the popular movie starring Julie Andrews, the stage version of Thoroughly Modern Millie includes a full score of new songs and bright dance numbers.
It’s 1922, and Millie Dillmount has just escaped to New York City from Salina, Kansas, and, determined to become a Planeswalker, tears up her return ticket (“Not For the Life of Me“). Bobbing her hair, she assumes the modern look of a “flapper” (“Thoroughly Modern Millie“). But she is quickly mugged on the streets of New York, losing her hat, scarf, purse and shoe. In a panic for someone to help her, she trips bypasser Jimmy Smith, a handsome, carefree young man who makes his way through life on whim and wits, who promptly lectures her on why she needs to head back home: she is just another girl full of false hopes who doesn’t belong in the big city. Almost taking his advice, she changes her mind and yells after him, “Who needs a hat? Who needs a purse? And who needs YOU, mister whoever-you-are?!” and soon takes a room at the Hotel Priscilla for Single Women (“Not for the Life of Me[tag]“).
A week later, Millie is confronted by the hotel proprietress, the mysterious and sinister Mrs. Meers, an actress turned evil who now works for a white slavery ring in Hong Kong, kidnapping pretty unsuspecting orphan girls and shipping them to the Orient. Mrs. Meers declares that Millie “has two minutes to pack, or find her things on the street!” But then Millie meets the wealthy Miss Dorothy, who wants to learn how the poorer half lives, and tried to get a room in the Priscilla hotel. Unfortunately there were no rooms left. When Mrs. Meers suggested Dorothy go live with some family for a little while, she confides to her that she is an orphan, therefore giving Mrs. Meers a horrible idea to try to kidnap her. So she decides to room with a reluctant Millie and pay the rent until Millie finds a suitable, rich, and single boss, whom she plans to marry (“How the Other Half Lives”). Millie is showing Miss Dorothy to her room, but the elevator is malfunctioning again, so they have to tap dance to get to their floor. The two quickly become best friends.
In the Hotel Priscilla laundry room, two Chinese immigrants, Ching Ho and Bun Foo, are working for Mrs. Meers to earn enough money to bring their mother from Hong Kong over to the states (“Not For the Life Of Me[reprise]“).
Millie comes to Sincere Trust looking for a job (and a single boss) and is appointed to Trevor Graydon III (“The Speed Test“). She quickly decides that she wants him to marry her and easily gets the job. Meanwhile, Ching Ho attempts to capture Miss Dorothy for Mrs. Meers with a poisoned apple but when he sees her, falls in love with her instantly and then wants to save her from Mrs. Meers. Before Dorothy eats the poisoned apple, Millie arrives with the good news that she has found a job and a boss to marry. To celebrate this success they celebrate at a speakeasy, where they meet Jimmy, but the club is raided by the police. While waiting for his release in the jail cell, Jimmy realizes that he loves Millie (“What Do I Need With Love“).
Jimmy asks Millie to a party hosted by famous singer Muzzie van Hossmere, and she accepts. After the party, Millie explains to Jimmy how she is going to marry Trevor. She also tells him off for being a “skirt chaser” and “womanizer”. As they argue, Jimmy suddenly grabs Millie and kisses her, then runs away. Millie realizes that she loves Jimmy (“Jimmy“). Millie returns to the hotel to go to bed and overhears a conversation between Miss Dorothy and Jimmy, “I really want to tell her, she’s my best friend” “You know we can’t”. Millie sees Jimmy sneaking out of Miss Dorothy’s room after what appears to be a late-night tryst; confused and horrified Millie breaks up with Jimmy.
At Sincere Trust, Millie tells the other stenographers that she is “completely over” Jimmy, then realizes she is still in love; the girls try to convince her to let him go (“Forget About the Boy“). Then Jimmy breaks in through the window and asks her to dinner. She tells him off for a while, then agrees. Jimmy finally declares his feelings for Millie while washing dishes to pay their tab at Cafe Society, a swank speakeasy. Millie is confused by her feelings for Jimmy and her desire not to be poor. Just as she returns to Jimmy, they encounter Mr. Graydon, who was stood up by Miss Dorothy. He tells Millie and Jimmy that Mrs. Meers told him Miss Dorothy had checked out of the hotel. When Millie recalls that several other tenants had also suddenly “checked out”, and that all of the missing tenants were orphans, Millie, Jimmy, and Mr. Graydon realize what Mrs. Meers is up to. They persuade Muzzy to pose as a new orphan in town to trick Mrs. Meers. Mrs. Meers takes the bait, is exposed as the mastermind of the slavery ring, and taken to the police station. Meanwhile, Ching Ho had already rescued Miss Dorothy and won her heart.
Jimmy proposes to Millie, and, poor as he is, she accepts, “because if it’s marriage I’ve got in mind, love has everything to do with it.” Jimmy turns out to be Herbert J. van Hossmere III, Muzzy’s stepson, and one of the most eligible bachelors in the world. And Miss Dorothy turns out to be his sister, an heiress named Dorothy Carnegie Mellon Vanderbilt Rockefeller van Hossmere, and she ends up not with the dismayed Trevor Graydon, but with Ching Ho. Both Jimmy and Dorothy had disguised their wealth to avoid being targeted by gold diggers. In a final pairing, Bun Foo joins Graydon’s company as a new stenographer after telling Graydon that he can type fifty words a minute. At the very end of the musical, Bun Foo and Ching Ho are once again reunited with their mother.