The Bay Street Players' production capitalizes on that charm — and much of that is due to lead actress Whitney Abell, who brings just the right the mix of wide-eyed innocence and hardheaded practicality to Millie Dillmount, a country gal new to the big city who has forsworn love to marry for money.
Bay Street Players artistic director David Clevinger has assembled a top-notch technical show, though as with all community theater, the actors are showcased to varying degrees of success.
Clevinger also designed the show, which does a rip-roaring job of evoking the Broadway staging. A stylized Manhattan skyline — symbol of Millie's modern dreams — overlooks proceedings. The stenographers use desks-on-wheels that can be rolled away for a quick dance break. Even a supertitle screen, used to provide translations for Mrs. Meers' Chinese henchmen, has an art-deco look.
The beautiful costumes (rented) range from quirky patterned suits, complete with vests, for the gents — and, of course, fabulous flapper dresses for the ladies. But little touches augment the look, such as the brightly colored glasses on no-nonsense Miss Flannery, Millie's supervisor.
Unlike in last summer's "Ragtime," there's no live orchestra; music director Beau Mahurin played and recorded the accompaniment, cueing it up at the right times. That means the vocalists can always be heard — though it creates a bit of a mechanical feel to the soundtrack, especially when the volume level stays so consistent.
Matching Abell's enthusiasm is her partner in merriment, Sara Bond, who imbues the prim Miss Dorothy with childlike grace. Another dynamic duo: Ryan Smith and Wade Lopes as hapless Chinese brothers. The actors' cartoon grins and bright clownlike silk outfits make the fact they aren't Asian irrelevant.
Chasteen Mullins plays evil Mrs. Meers as gruff, rather than preeningly self-confident; and Ben Tyson's Jimmy is more passive sweetheart than streetwise scamp. His cocky patter about being a too-cool-for-romance womanizer is hard to believe when he's so soft-spoken about it.
Andrea Whitman, though game, is too young for Muzzy, without any hardscrabble world weariness about her. And her voice, though pretty, can't belt Muzzy's songs to make them showstoppers.
But Clevinger keeps up the pace so that any deficiencies are quickly knocked aside, whether by Tara Whitman's tap-infused choreography, hijinks with a laundry cart or simply Abell's radiant smile. All are reminders of the joys of the old-fashioned musicalcomedy.
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See for yourself
•What: Bay Street Players production of the musical comedy 'Thoroughly Modern Millie'
•When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and Wednesday, July 20; 2 p.m. Sundays and Saturday, July 30; through July 31
•Where: State Theatre, 109 N. Bay St., Eustis
•Tickets: $20; $17 on Wednesdays and Thursdays