After beginning their Australian premiere season of “Legends!” with performances in Brisbane, it is now Sydney’s turn to be entertained by the legendary stars of stage and screen, sisters Hayley Mills and Juliet Mills.
On Tuesday evening, theatre lovers came out in force for the opening night at Sydney’s Theatre Royal, to watch in awe as these two legends performed in “Legends!”. I was in the audience and must admit that it was quite an exciting experience watching the live performances of such renowned actors, whom I had only seen before on screen.
Written by Pulitzer Prize winner James Kirkwood (A Chorus Line), “Legends!” is a hilarious and touching comedy, that has broken box office records around the world wherever it has played.
Hayley Mills is returning to Australia after starring in John Frost’s Tony Award winning production of “The King and I” during the original Australian tour in 1991. Juliet Mills previously appeared across Australia in the play “Fallen Angels”.
Daughters of legendary English actor Sir John Mills, Hayley appeared in several Walt Disney films, most famously the dual roles of twins Susan and Sharon in “The Parent Trap” (1961) and won the Academy Juvenile Award for “Pollyanna” (1960). Juliet gained enormous popularity in the television sitcom “Nanny and The Professor”, winning Emmy Awards for her performances in the mini-series “QB VII” (1974) and for her role in the drama series “Passions”.
Maxwell Caulfield, who is married to Juliet Mills and has more than 70 film, theatre and television credits, including the role of Mark Wylde in TV’s popular “Emmerdale”, co-stars in “Legends!”.
“Legends!” takes audiences to Manhattan, into a world of gossip, rivalry, reminiscence, longing and scandal, as two famous but fading movie stars try to upstage one another. Leatrice Monsee (Hayley Mills) and Sylvia Glenn (Juliet Mills) are hustled by a down at heel theatre producer (Maxwell Caulfield) to kick-start their once luminous careers by starring in a Broadway bound play. There’s just one problem – they loathe one another. The fiery feuds of Hollywood legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford fade in comparison to those of Leatrice Monsee and Sylvia Glenn.
The fun begins when Sylvia takes over a friend’s apartment after bribing the owner’s maid, Aretha, played by Leah Howard, so she can meet with the theatre producer to discuss starring in his new Broadway play. After the arrival of Leatrice, mayhem takes over, including the arrival of a jaw dropping strippergram, performed by David Denis as Boom-Boom Johnson, who managed to steal every scene he appeared in. The fun really begins when the two old rivals, Leatrice and Sylvia, eat some of Aretha’s special “cookies”.
Both Hayley and Juliet Mills give masterful performances with impeccable timing. Maxwell Caulfield is totally believable as the hustling theatre producer, while the scene where he is talking on three telephones at the one time was a highlight of the evening.
For a night of true carefree entertainment, “Legends!” is well worth a visit.
Sandra Tiltman Photo: John Pond