Tara Bone, contributing writer
The bright lights of New York City’s jazz age are coming to Cache Valley this March in Four Seasons Theatre Company’s production of Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Thoroughly Modern Millie is an energetic, toe-tapping musical comedy about the journey of Millie Dillmount, a small-town girl with a lot of guts who ventures to the big city with a plan for her future. Things don’t go quite as planned, and through a series of adventurous mishaps, she must choose between what she thinks she wants, or love.
Kody Rash, Thoroughly Modern Millie director, promises pure entertainment with something for everyone to love in the show.
“The principals who are playing these comedic roles have a great ability to pull you in, and you’re just waiting for the next funny line or crazy thing they do with the character, so audiences will find joy,” Kody said. “The actors are incredible performers with beautiful voices, so if you’re in it for the music, you’ll hear incredible singing, if you’re a dancer, this show is full of high energy 1920s dance.”
Kody adds that Millie’s character is very relatable, and that audience goers will take a journey with Millie and a host of unforgettable characters as she follows her dreams and discovers what she wants out of life. The journey includes period costumes, award-winning music, and innovative technical work backstage.
The guides on this journey are Clarissa Boston who plays Millie, and Trevor Dean who plays the role of Jimmy Smith, a city slicker who unexpectedly becomes tangled in Millie’s adventures. Ironically, in real life, Clarissa and Trevor are similar to Millie’s character. Later this year, both will head off on their own journeys to the big city where they will follow their dreams to pursue acting careers.
Growing up in West Valley, Clarissa’s passion for acting sparked when she was a 7th grader, playing her first role as Little Red in Into the Woods. She continued to do musical theatre and came to a crossroads as an incoming freshman at Utah State University. She knew she wanted to attend USU because “everyone was so friendly and I felt I belonged here,” but she didn’t know what to study.
“I had to figure out what I wanted to do because I had developed a passion for theatre and performing, but of course, there’s a lot of mixed feelings about making that a real career,” Clarissa said. “I came in as a biochemistry major, but the whole summer I kept thinking that that’s not what I wanted to do, so a week before classes started, I dropped all my classes, went to the theatre department and said, ‘Here I am, take me!'”
And take her they did. In May 2017, she graduated from USU with a BFA in acting and a minor in biology. During her senior year, she played her favorite role, Dolly Levi in Matchmaker. In 2016, Clarissa married her high school sweetheart and fellow USU theatre student, Justin Turpin.
Following Justin’s graduation this spring, the couple will move to Chicago to continue their acting careers. It’s fitting that Millie is the last role Clarissa will perform in Cache Valley before heading off to pursue new goals. Clarissa feels all of her training has brought her to this place to play Millie Dillmount.
“I’ve been studying for five years vocally, and over the years my voice has changed a lot as I’ve discovered my voice,” Clarissa said. “I had always considered myself the princess-type with the floaty voice, but I didn’t think that was my voice. I found that Millie’s style fit me well and it became a dream role. It’s all come together to play this role.”
Similarly, for Trevor, playing the role of Jimmy has always been a dream role. In fact, Trevor’s mom named him after Trevor Graydon, another character from Thoroughly Modern Millie, after she saw the 1960s film that the stage production is based on.
“As soon as Trevor Graydon came onto the screen, her heart just pitter pattered,” Trevor said. “My mom said she wanted to name one of her children Trevor, and that was me!”
Trevor is quick to point out that the stage production of Thoroughly Modern Millie is different from the Julie Andrews film version. He says the general plot is the same, but encourages theatre goers to come experience new things in a one-of-a-kind live theatre setting.
Trevor grew up in Willard, Utah and studied acting at Western Wyoming College and Weber State University. He currently lives in Salt Lake City and has been commuting to rehearsals in Cache Valley for Thoroughly Modern Millie since January.
He started acting at seven years old and has enjoyed every minute of it. His favorite stage performance up to this point is playing Jamie from The Last Five Years. Other favorite roles have been Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors and Igor from Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein.
“I’ve always loved the stage,” Trevor said. “That’s where my heart always has been and will always be.”
This fall Trevor is taking the plunge and moving to Los Angeles to work as a professional actor. He calls the move “scary, but fun.”
As the director of Thoroughly Modern Millie, Kody was excited from the moment Clarissa and Trevor were cast as Millie and Trevor. He feels they brought an amazing level of talent and provided teaching opportunities for other younger cast members.
“I knew the high caliber of performers they are, both of them having studied this; this is their end-games as far as them looking to be performers for a living,” Rash said. “In addition to them being great performers, they’re also great people.”
Thoroughly Modern Millie cast members come from different stages of life and varying life situations. From high school and college students, to mothers and fathers, Rash said they all have come together to create with different backgrounds and experience levels, and that makes community theatre special.
“The word ‘community’ sometimes gets a bad rap. Some think, ‘Oh, it’s just a community theatre,’ but I think the word ‘community’ is about different people coming together for a cause,” Kody said. “It can’t be anything but positive, and it unifies a community and there’s a connection we’re able to make with our audiences.”
Audiences can experience Thoroughly Modern Millie with the entire cast and Clarissa and Trevor before they embark on their own journeys, during performances on March 16-17, 19, 22-24, and 26. Visit fourseasonstheatre.org to purchase tickets.