The King and I
24th – 31st May 2014
Photographs from the show by Alan Martin – see more by clicking here…
NODA – Patricia Connor, Region 6 Representative
“The King and I” has music by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, the story is based on the novel “Anna and the King of Siam” by Margaret Landon, written in 1944 from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens a British Schoolteacher who was hired as governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s as he tried to modernize his country.”The King and I” is one of my favourite musicals, and in my opinion it has some of the most beautiful poignant songs written by Rodgers & Hammerstein in its score so I was really looking forward to this show and I am pleased to say that this production did not disappoint me at all. Artistic Director Hilary Thomson had some very talented performers in her cast who worked very well together as a team to bring this lovely colourful production to the stage. The talented cast included Liz Clarke who was outstanding as Anna acting and singing very well, her voice suited this part and she was the epitome of the very British school teacher who also had a soft heart. Jamie Lester gave a superb performance as the king; it was obvious he had done some homework on this part and the soliloquy “A Puzzlement “was very well performed. Both characters had a very good rapport with each other and they were able to convey the complex relationship between Anna and King that is at the centre of the story very well, getting this relationship right is very important to the success of this show. Lucie Clarke and Devon Motte as Tuptim and Lun Tha were very believable and moving as the doomed lovers and Karen Parkinson gave us a very graceful and gentle Lady Thiang. Phil Power was suitably intimidating as the Kralahome and two young men to watch for the future are Dylan Saffer as Prince Chululongkorn and Thomas Corcoran as Louis Leonowens who both produced good performances. The above characters were well supported by Ed Robinson as Captain Orton, Ron Bridson as Sir Edward Ramsay, Iain Ashcroft as The Interpreter, Luke Hurst as Phra Alack and Jhanaica Mook as Princess Ying Yaowlak. The chorus of ladies and dancers all looked the part and were in character, they performed the difficult ballet “Small House of Uncle Thomas” very well while the narration by Lucie Clarke as Tuptim was managed skilfully. Generally diction was good and dialogue could be followed easily but there were some slight tuning issues on one or two occasions during some songs however this did not detract at all from my enjoyment of the show.
The orchestra led by Musical Director Charles Moss supported the cast well, played nicely and were not too loud. Choreography by Zoe Findlay suited and met the demands of this particular show and was performed very well by the dancers. Scenery and props were effective and colourful, which made a good platform for the performers to work on. Well done to Stage Manager Nick Evans and all the backstage crew including sound and lighting. Costumes overseen by Pam Howarth and her team were also bright colourful and suited the characters and roles beautifully enhancing the production, it was obvious some thought had gone in to getting them right.
Congratulations to Artistic Director Hilary Thomson and all involved in this lovely enjoyable production both back stage and front of house and thank you for inviting me I had a very enjoyable evening.
Champion News – Jenny Robson
THIS Rodgers and Hammerstein favourite stays true to its Victorian period. It contains an abundance of talent, lavish sets, ornate Siamese costumes and some of the best music written for the stage performed beautifully by Charles Moss and his orchestra.
It is Siam (now Thailand) during the 1860s. Anna travels to Bangkok with her son, Louis (a delightful portrayal with perfect pitch and diction by Thomas Corcoran), to take up the post of schoolteacher to the children of King Mongkut. Although steeped in tradition the king wishes his children to be taught western culture and manners.
It took a few scenes for me to get used to Jamie Lester’s voice but he was wonderfully convincing as the chauvinistic King who needed to maintain his pride and uphold customs while learning refinement. He had a lovely rapport with Liz Clarke who played Anna – wonderful clarity in her voice and the widest crinoline I’ve ever seen!
Karen Parkinson was excellent as Lady Thiang (favourite wife and mother of the heir) especially when she sang the emotional Something Wonderful.
Lucie Clarke and Devon Motte were perfect as Tuptim, newest addition to the harem, and her lover, Lun Tha.
The Kralahome (Phil Power), Sir Edward Ramsay (Ron Bridson) and Captain Orton (Ed Robinson) completed the principals who, with the royal wives, dancers, guards and priests gave lovely performances under Hilary Thomson’s expert direction.
The March of the Siamese Children is a delightful piece of music setting the scene for the twenty offspring of the favourable wives to be presented to Anna. The children exuded sweetness and charm led by Prince Chululongkorn, heir to the throne, ably played by Dylan Saffer.
The Small House of Uncle Thomas ballet scene was enthralling and I must congratulate Zoe Findlay for her innovative choreography.
Score: 9/10 – An enthralling production! Shall we dance?