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'Millie': First time in the city

Hagerstown arts high school debuts its first production

April 08, 2010
  • Sheridan Webb portrays Millie Dillmount, a 1920s-era young woman who moves to New York City with hopes of marrying a wealthy man, in "Thoroughly Modern Millie."
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer,

Many of them grew up watching "Fame" and "High School Musical," but, on Friday, it will be time for the students at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts to shine.

On Friday night, students will debut the musical comedy "Thoroughly Modern Millie" at The Maryland Theatre in downtown Hagerstown. Shows continue through Sunday, April 11.

But there's more riding on that opening curtain than the first-night jitters. It will be the school's first theater production since it opened in the fall of 2009.

"I'm not nervous -- not right now," said Sheridan Webb, a 17-year-old senior during a rehearsal on Good Friday, a week before opening night.

Sheridan has the lead role, Millie Dillmount.

"Thoroughly Modern Millie" is a musical spoof of the 1920s and is framed around Dillmount, a woman who moves to New York City and falls in love. Woven into the plot are tap-dance numbers, a people-smuggling scheme and lots of singing.

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The play won a Tony Award for best musical in 2002. The play is based on the 1967 film -- also named "Thoroughly Modern Millie" -- by Richard Morris. Julie Andrews played the lead role as Millie Dillmount.

For the student production, Nick Vindivich, a 16-year-old junior, is cast as Millie's love interest, Jimmy.

"I'm not nervous," Nick said.

There are 40 students cast in the production. Most of them are girls, said Ruth Ridenour, the school's theater instructor and director of the play.

"I picked 'Millie' because it's my favorite and it has lots of girls," Ridenour said.

For more than 30 years, Ridenour taught theater at Williamsport High School.

Barbara Ingram School for the Arts combines preprofessional training in the arts with academic training. Students who attend the school come from all over the county.

Students sacrificed part of their spring break to rehearse. This was something Sheridan said she was looking forward to.

"We have a 9-to-5 practice today," said Sheridan near the start of the Good Friday rehearsal. "I couldn't be more excited."

Andrea Becker, the school's director of dance, passed out the tap shoes during the Friday practice at The Maryland Theatre stage.

Freshman Leah Harrell, 14, was ready for the dancing.

"I've been dancing for seven years," said Leah, the daughter of Clyde Harrell, Washington County Public School's director for high school education.

Freshman Dallas Keister, 14, of Hagerstown, said she's been dancing for even longer -- since she was 3. Her dream is to attend Juilliard, perform on cruise ships and eventually dance on Broadway. She said she was happy when she learned there was an arts school opening in Hagers-town.

"I had seen movies about arts schools but they were far away from here," Dallas said.

Senior Brad Reynolds, 18, has the role of Trevor Graden, Millie's wealthy love interest. This is his first time acting in a play.

"I play saxophone," said Reynolds, who plans to study recording technology in college.

Ridenour said students landed the roles through auditions held in January. Reynolds said he wanted to go for an acting role because his mother, Brenda Reynolds, acted in plays when she was in high school.

Vocal music teacher Kyle Weary, who directs the play's music ensemble, has helped Sheridan vocally navigate through the music.

Sheridan said for "Millie," she has to belt when she'd rather "sing pretty."

This was especially true for "Gimmie Gimmie."

"It's one of the hardest songs I've ever had to sing in my life," Sheridan said.

Sheridan, who is from Clear Spring, said attending Hagerstown's first art school has put her steps closer to her dreams of pursuing a career as a professional actress and singer.

"I felt like this was my calling," Sheridan said.




If you go ...



WHAT: "Thoroughly Modern Millie," all-school musical presented by the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts

WHEN: Opening night 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 9. Shows continue 8 p.m. Saturday, April 10, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 11.

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

COST: Tickets cost $10 to $15. Seats are reserved, though tickets will be available at the door.

MORE: For tickets, reservation and other event information call 301-766-8844.

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