Love at the center of 'Millie'

What's love got to do with it? Everything.

Love, a subject that has plagued mankind for centuries, is one of the central themes at the heart of "Thoroughly Modern Millie," the latest production from the Santa Monica College Theatre Arts Department.

Originally written by Richard Morris, the play takes the audience on a journey back to the Roaring '20s, a time remembered for swing and jazz music sauntering in and out of dimly-lit bars, women in flapper dresses dancing along with sharply-dressed men sporting fedoras.

Arriving in New York from Kansas, Millie Dillmount, played by SMC student Allisen Beall, is determined to break into the workforce. She embraces the changing attitudes in the country to a more positive outlook on women, and embarks on an adventure in a strange new world.

On her first day in New York, a chance meeting with a slick-talking, charming Jimmy Smith, played by SMC student Jordan Paradise, changes her life forever.

Young Millie, persistent in redefining women's roles in society, is intent on eventually marrying a rich man, believing that reason is superior to love when it comes to marriage, completely oblivious of Jimmy's developing feelings for her.

Along the way, Millie befriends several aspiring actresses, including Miss Dorothy Brown, played by SMC student Autumn Powers, who are all staying at The Priscilla Hotel while looking for work. The girls become caught up in a sinister plot headed by the sly and cunning Mrs. Meers, played by SMC student Krystyna Rodriguez, a singer who has fallen from grace and is reduced to impersonating a Chinese hotel clerk while smuggling American women to Hong Kong as part of a prostitution ring.

The play is strung together with highly delightful musical numbers, which is performed impressively by the cast along with an amazing pit orchestra conducted by Gary Grey, a performance accompanist and instructor in the SMC music department.

Beall and Paradise were captivating in their respective roles as Millie and Jimmy, providingentertaining and comedic banter throughout the play, resulting in nonstop laughs and enjoyment.

The entire cast does tremendous job. From the highly successful, yet very humble singer Muzzy Van Hossmere, played by SMC student Amanda Korkunis, to the quirky and aloof businessman Trevor Graydon, played by SMC student Kelvin Chiang, to the stumbling and bumbling Chinese brothers Ching Ho and Bun Foo, played by SMC students Alex Cooper and Isaac Che, respectively; every character enhances the story and makes it very enjoyable.

Although set in the 1920s, the main themes of the play are highly relevant and any audience can relate to them. The changing dynamic of the perception of women and their roles in society is still a major issue. The play uplifts women to a stature equal to men, strong individuals capable of achieving whatever their male counterparts can.

The theme of love enforces the belief that material possessions and wealth do not make a relationship. Attraction and love are the most important components and if you follow your heart, you just might be surprised at what you discover.