Encore Atlanta was honored to have a chance to chat with Claci Miller, the star of Atlanta Lyric Theatre‘s production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Like her character, Claci went to New York City with big dreams that had to make room for reality once she fell in love. In this interview, she shares what brought her to Atlanta, what she loves about the show and why she thinks audiences will fall in love with the Lyric’s production.
My name is Claci Miller and I am playing Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie, which is fun!
So tell me about your character, what is your favorite thing about her?
Oh, that’s a good question … she’s spunky and she has a dream and she is not afraid to go out and get what she really wants. But deep down inside, she discovers that love is more important than what she thinks she wants. So it’s a really sweet, coming of age story for a girl in her 20s in New York City. I relate to that a lot because I went to New York in my 20s and I was very gung-ho (“I’m gonna be a Broadway star!”). And I found love — on the subway — but I found love and it, love sort of helps put life in perspective a little bit.
So is that one of the reasons why you moved to Atlanta?
It is actually. My husband and I were living in New York City when 9/11 happened and it really helped us to sort of reevaluate our priorities. And we moved to Los Angeles and he got a job in the financial industry. And he doesn’t tell anyone he used to be an actor, because who would trust an actor with their money? (laughs) So we moved to Los Angeles and he started working with a financial institution and we got transfered here to Atlanta. Closer to home for me, closer to family. So in a round-about way, yeah.
If someone has never seen Thoroughly Modern Millie before, how would you tell the story to them, in a nutshell?
In a nutshell, a little girl goes to the big city to seek her dream and she wants to marry her boss. She thinks she’s modern, so she bobs her hair and wears short dresses, you know short dresses for the 1920s. So she gets a job as a stenog[rapher] and she plans to marry her boss. And her plan is thwarted when she literally trips a man in the street. And through meetings and friendship they fall in love. And his plan is to just play and have fun. He’s a very wealthy person and they kind of court and through the process, they fall in love and discover the real meaning of life. And it’s a very sweet sweet story.
What’s your favorite part of the show or musical number?
I really love the closing song in Act One, it’s where, on the balcony. Jimmy, the character that plays opposite Millie, get in an argument, and they kiss, and he runs offstage and he leaves Millie standing on the balcony over New York City discovering what has just happened and what is happening in her heart. It’s called “Jimmy” and she discovers as she’s singing the song, her feelings for him. I get to wear this great blue sparkly dress and stand alone onstage, in the spotlight, and it’s a really fun number. It’s sort of where all her emotions come to a head in the show. It’s very sweet, and I like it a lot.
So you’ve been doing this show in front of audiences for a weekend already. What are they responding to most?
The dancing in the show is so fabulous. I really don’t know — I can’t pinpoint one thing about the show. I think it’s just a great melding of the minds. First of all it’s a beautifully written show, it’s a great show. And the dancers — every single person in this show is so exact and so precise. Karen, the choreographer, has been so … I don’t want to say like [mimes cracking a whip] but she’s been so great with everybody in the show. She’s been like, she knows exactly what she wants and it’s so clean and it’s so beautiful and so period and the costumes are so gorgeous. But after the dance numbers you can hear the audiences [gasps and claps] you know as people applaud because they’re so excited. I don’t know that you see dancing like this in musicals in Atlanta. In my experience, the Lyric really produces for people on a large scale for this city, glamorous musical theater. And I think the theater where it’s produced, the Strand Theatre in Marietta, it’s an Art Deco theater, so the set the costumes, it all blends in to a huge Art Deco ’20s experience. It’s really beautiful, visually to see.
If people want to get tickets to see the show, where can they go?
They can go to the website, http://www.atlantalyrictheatre.com and there’s a whole Get Your Tickets Now! section, with a view of the theater and the box office number is there or you can get your tickets online.
Great, and how long is the show running for?
It runs through Oct. 2nd, next Sunday.