Photos & Story by Jamie Oord

It was a fateful time back in March 2020. The world was so unsure of what would happen in the coming weeks, and then in an instant, the world shut down. Theatres shuttered their doors and dimmed their lights. Performers around the world lost their jobs, their hobbies.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, all live theatrical productions set for 2020 were forced to come to a halt, indefinitely. However, with many of the COVID restrictions dropping the arts are coming back with a vengeance. In recent weeks many broadway, local, and high school theater companies have announced their return to the stage. Does this mean it’s time to strap on our nice shoes and hit the red seats? That’s exactly what it means, it’s time to go out and support local arts.

Little Falls High School was one among many schools forced to cancel their musical last spring, saddening performers and viewers alike. After months of hard work and time put into rehearsing, the high school’s production of Thoroughly Modern Millie was canceled the day before opening night. It was thought that the show would never see the light of day, however, director Amanda Grimaldi has decided it is time for a revival. With the majority of the original cast returning ‘Millie will be coming to the Little Falls High School stage this summer.

Grimaldi has been involved in the Little Falls theatre scene for over a decade. Whether it be directing, choreographing, sound, or all of them at once she has been part of the musicals since 2008. Her track record speaks for itself at this point with her previous two shows, Beauty and the Beast, and The Addams Family filling the entire auditorium with each performance. There was talk that Thoroughly Modern Millie was going to be one of her best productions yet.

The cancellation of the show left Grimaldi and all others who worked on it crushed, and broken-hearted. There were numerous seniors who thought they would never be able to perform their last high school show, an experience that is so important to high school theater kids. Underclassmen performing in a musical for the first time, and suddenly that chance was taken away. So much sweat and tears go into putting on a theatrical production, it is a very exciting time in a theater person’s life, and due to Coronavirus that excitement turned to grief in a matter of minutes.

“We were devastated, absolutely devastated,” said Grimaldi when asked how they dealt with the news of the cancelation. “I had all the kids and myself crying in my classroom.”

The early days of COVID were a very confusing time for the troupe. They had tried to stage a small showing of their musical for a limited audience, and to be able to record it, however, the next day theaters and schools around the nation went dark for what felt like an eternity.

Upon the return of in-person schooling earlier this year there was talk in the chorus room about trying to do the show again. Grimaldi heard the chitter chatter, and brought it to superintendent Dr.Levatino who without hesitation agreed to stage the show this summer.

The show will remain mostly the same as when it was first set to open, with just a few minor changes to casting due to people not being available to return.

“I’m excited, nervous – nervous to pull it all together in three weeks. We’ve got some kids who aren’t coming back, so having to teach it to new people is really what is making me nervous.” Grimaldi expressed, “The set has already been built, luckily a lot of the pieces never got taken apart.” Though Grimaldi is nervous, it is clear that the theater department is more than prepared to start rehearsals, and performances.

Rehearsals are in full swing, cast members are trying on costumes again, ripping mic tape off their cheeks, and dancing under the bright lights of the stage. The group started off strong with a full run-through rehearsal on July 19th to go over what they remembered from last March and to introduce the new cast members to the show. Even after a year and a half of not going over the script once, the cast came prepared with most of the show still in their memories. Rehearsals are set to be going straight through until the show dates, giving the troupe three solid weeks of rehearsal.

Thoroughly Modern Millie is a comic musical that takes place in the Roaring 20s and follows a young flapper, Millie, as she tries to find work, love, and wealth. Conflict comes out to play when Millie stays at a hotel owned by an evil Mrs.Meers, who is also the leader of a white slavery ring in China.

The show dates are August 6th, and 7th at 7:00 pm, ticket prices are set at $10.00 per ticket. So go out, buy your tickets, put on your best theatre outfit, and enjoy the experience of seeing a live show again.

summer millie poster

Jamie Oord

Jamie Oord is a young aspiring writer, raised in Little Falls; a town that he says has always had life, and culture in it. He’s always had a deep connection with the arts, and the beauty of everything that is under the artistic umbrella. 

He hopes that he can bring more attention to the arts in this area. The town has always been an exciting place with events all over town year-round. In recent years, however, the arts have become more relevant in Little Falls. Jamie hopes to be able to tell the story of those in Little Falls who have created art here, and those that come from all over to share their abilities with the town.

Jamie has always strived to create stories whether it be through performance or words. From an extremely young age, he has been performing in musicals, plays, and concerts all around the state. As he got older he realized that sharing his artistic mind with the world was his calling. 

You’ve probably seen Jamie on almost any and every stage in town from the high school, the old Happy Waffle stage, and even the gazebo in Burke Park. 

Jamie is covering Arts and Entertainment for My Little Falls and if you have feedback on one of his articles or an idea for a story, please feel free to reach out to him at jamieoord@gmail.com. He would love to hear from you.