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Thoroughly Entertaining Evening

April 30, 2010 - Phyllis Sigal

I'm always amazed at how professional the Wheeling Park High School spring musical productions are; usually when you're watching, you have to remind yourself that it's a high school show.

I've been attending the spring musicals, off and on, since the mid-1990s — taking the kids to the shows to expose them to the theater experience.

Then, my son Leland took the stage at the age of 10 as Winthrop in "The Music Man," his first "big" part — around 1998.

During their high school years, Amanda hit the stage with "Big," "Footloose" and "Seussical the Musical." Leland joined the action as a sophomore as the Mayor of Whoville in "Seussical," then went on to have the leads in "Crazy for You" and "Guys and Dolls."

What fun times those were; although I certainly don't miss the opening night jitters that I had every year!

My audience participation didn't end when my kids graduated ... I think I've only missed one spring musical in the past four years, since I've had no child of my own on stage.

As the years pass, however, I know fewer and fewer of the talented students. Many of the students now are the "little brothers and sisters" of kids my kids were friends with. But that certainly doesn't make the show any less enjoyable.

Last night (April 29) was opening night for "Thoroughly Modern Millie," and what a show it is! I'm impressed once again.

Millie, played by Abby Mathieu — one of the few kids I do know — was incredible!

Abby was a perfect Millie — as if the show was made for her. She was totally convincing as a "modern." Great singing, great acting — great job, Abby!

The show certainly showcases the girls' talents; there were some great parts for girls. Miss Dorothy (played by Rachel Lowe), Mrs. Meers (played by Alyssa McKitrick), Miss Flannery (played by Sophia Kayafas), Muzzy Van Hossmere (played by Riley Lynn Bonar) — they all did a fantastic job!

The songs are fun; the music is professional, thanks to an experienced orchestra led by Pat Garrett; the kids are incredibly talented; the show is, as usual, well cast and well directed by Bill Cornforth; the set is ambitious, and this year's I think is one of the best I've seen; and the costumes were beautiful (thanks to Gail Adams ... remember when our girls were flappers back in middle school?)

Check it out ... "Thoroughly Modern Millie" at the Phyllis A. Beneke Theater at Wheeling Park High School,   7 p.m., April 30-May 1, and May 5-7. For tickets, call 304-243-0417 or e-mail

Oh, and P.S., Leland actually makes a cameo appearance in "Millie." Check out the back page of the "Daily Graphic" tabloid that is bandied about during the show. Leland, who was in town last week to do a dramatic reading of "Casey at the Bat" with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, happened to be wearing a N.Y. Yankees ball cap. Mr. Cornforth wanted the back of the newspaper (which I designed for them) to be a sports page. Props coordinator Josh Fromhart thought it would be funny to use a headline,  "Yankees Lose! " to needle N.Y. native Cornforth!  So, a bit of photoshop on a real N.Y. Yankee and Leland wearing the ball cap ... and voila!


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