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Independence Native Takes Title Role in NKU's "Thoroughly Modern Millie"

Megan Urz takes center stage at Northern Kentucky University for the first time in tap-happy musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, playing Dec. 1-11.

A senior from Independence, this is actually Urz’s third time in the show, about small town girl Millie Dillmont, who, in 1922, is thoroughly modern. She’s moved to New York, bobbed her hair, and gets a job with the goal of marrying for money.

If only Mille hadn’t moved into the very proper hotel owned by Mrs. Meers, who happens to be the evil mastermind of a white slavery ring. Or fall for carefree Jimmy…

Urz first performed in a junior version of Millie at CCM Prep (at University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music) where she played Mrs. Meers, and then took the title role as a junior at Community Christian Academy.

She’s fine with having had to wait for her starring role at NKU. When Urz graduates in spring, she has lots of auditions lined up but knows that a lot of outcomes aren’t about whether you’re good or bad, it’s about “what they’re looking for.”

She notes that a big part of acting is “acceptance – I’m gonna face more ‘no’ than ‘yes.’" Urz adds, “I’m open to whatever doors might open, from cruise ships to Broadway.”

Director Jamey Strawn says Millie is on this season’s schedule “because it celebrates the Twenties dance styles and tap sequences, iconic characters, and strong roles for female actors.”

Choreographer Tracy Bonner adds, “Artistically, Thoroughly Modern Millie provides a wonderful opportunity for our students who are building up advanced dance skills through our program. 

“It requires a highly energetic and active ensemble that provides much of the backdrop for the social and cultural statements of the time period of Prohibition and the post-suffragette movement, giving women the right to vote in August of 1920.” 

Showy tap dancing is what audiences will love. Urz loves tap. “It’s pure fun," she says. "Unless you put your feet in tap shoes you can’t quite understand it.”

She also likes “sweet love stories” – which Millie unashamedly is.

Urz also likes what she and her character have in common. “Millie aspires to go to New York City, thrive, and be successful. She has spunk. When she leaves her Kansas town she’s terrified and she’s even more excited. She has the guts to pick up her suitcases.

“I’d like to see that in myself. I like to think of myself as someone who never stops fighting for my dreams.”

A few fun facts about Millie:

  • Millie is the first time an NKU mainstage musical will feature a mostly-student orchestra. Credit the new School of the Arts (SOTA) and its interdisciplinary approach.

Strawn says, “For me, the joy comes from working collaboratively with all of the elements (actors, costumes, lighting, scenery, music, choreography, etc). to assemble this complex logistical jigsaw puzzle and create a work that excites, inspires, and entertains an audience.”

  • Millie has an entirely female stage management team. Bonner observes this musical specifically “provides a great way to feature our large numbers of female students in the School of the Arts and embody the spirit of strong women. 

“Our young women onstage and off can use a show like Millie to realize their value personally, their opinions, and their convictions are important to the continued evolution of our cultural society. It’s a beautiful thing to watch these young women discover…that their voices and the art they create matters and is respected.”

Thoroughly Modern Millie, Dec. 1-11. Corbett Theatre, Fine Arts Center, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets $14, senior citizens $11, students $8. 859-572-5464 and [email protected].

Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts

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