Few shows leave the audience with a burning desire to head to the nearest CVS and buy up milk. And yet, “The Milk Made,” an original musical by the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert and Sullivan Players and directed by Victoria H. Gong ’23 and Keagan Yap ’25, did just that. The unexpected on stage transformation of milk into a highly sought-after good is emblematic of the show as a whole. With plenty of modern humor, a crowd-pleasing, romantic plot, and complemented by phenomenal music, “The Milk Mad,” which ran between March 24 and 27 is nothing if not original.
Set in the futuristic world of a Chinese-dominated London, the musical follows a commoner whose sister is facing the struggle of being in love with “The Lady” (Katherine E. Vandermel ’25), who was set to be married to a nobleman. The Commoner (Alina S. Dong ’23), together with a group of friendly anarchists, spends the show helping her sister figure out a way to be with her true love, even though she is not a noble.
The script is certainly one of the show’s strengths, and it proves humorous despite some bumps throughout. Some of the humor is at the top of the line. For instance, the milk in question seems to have the same effect as alcohol, and the actors make entertaining movements and comments to simulate this. Though there are times when the humor felt almost forced, not fitting the scene. No matter how the jokes landed, however, the show was consistently engaging through its frequent use of Gen Z slang.
All in all, this light-heartedness stole the spotlight but at the expense of the story. The show revolved around a predictable plot and the repetitive jokes almost beggedto be replaced with dialogue meant to develop a more complex narrative.
With that being said, the music consistently shines despite the script’s highs and lows. Katherine E. Vandermel ’25 stands out with an operatic voice that cannot be missed. Perhaps the show’s biggest strength, the pit orchestra members were perfectly in synch, and the actual music complemented the storyline and the show’s atmosphere nicely.
Enjoyable as it is, though, there is no denying that the music sometimes outshines the actors, making it difficult to hear them sing. Sometimes it is simply unclear what is happening in the story — it is quite literally drowned by the singing. This effect is compounded by the scene design and might be intentional, if inconvenient to the experience of watching “The Milk Made”: There is a screen with the lyrics that requires the audience to tilt their heads down or to the side to get an idea of what is actually being sung at a given moment.
The cast managed to channel their characters and convey their feelings quite naturally throughout the show. The actors never broke character, even when they were doing humorous scenes such as being intoxicated on milk, or being stopped by a personified “stop” sign during a raid.
The scenography and costumes brilliantly complement the acting. The set of the palace had numerous vibrant colors that made the futuristic setting believable. The outfits similarly contributed to the musical’s worldbuilding slant, showing a clear distinction between the social classes that plays a crucial role in the production’s narrative. However, there might be a possible oversight when it comes to the costumes’ authenticity: The story is set in a Chinese-themed world, meanwhile, the wealthier characters are wearing Japanese-style kimonos.
While some of the show’s flaws do take away from the overall message, the purpose of the performance remains clear and the hard work pays off. “The Milk Made” is a humorous and joyful musical.