THE HELLO GIRLS: Perky, Pertinent World War I Musical is Welcome!

Review By David Finkle


Songwriter Peter Mills—who provides the score for The Hello Girls, just opening with great flair at 59E59 Theatres—has been working quietly for a couple decades now. Considering his enormous talent, he’s been working much more quietly than he deserves.

The Hello Girls isn’t quiet, by any means. It’s a rousing and canny entry at the end of 2018, the #Metoo year. Set in 1918, it’s very much about the Great War, which ended just a few days over a century back. So with a focus on the terrifying war and the active societal equalizing of women, it’s a clever amalgam of something historically pertinent and something contemporarily pertinent.


A 1995 Princeton graduate, who was, of course, a Triangle Club member, Mills co-founded the Prospect Theater Company with Reichel and in the intervening years has written the songs (and often written or co-written the book) for several other highly appealing musicals. These include The Flood, which concerns the 1927 Mississippi River disaster and boasts “It’s Amazing the Things That Float,” arguably the most brilliant song composed for a show anytime recently.

Had Mills been dreaming up songs in the mid-20th century, he would likely have been a celebrated Broadway tunesmith, but the closest he’s come to the main Stem so far is The Honeymooners, a musical adaptation of the classic Jackie Gleason sitcom, for which he wrote only the lyrics (Stephen Weiner, the composer). It opened a year ago at the Paper Mill Playhouse and, for reasons only slightly involving Mills, was sufficiently below par not to warrant much more discussion.


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