Great songs and a wonderful cast in The King and I
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s multi-award-winning The King and I is coming to Hastings’ White Rock Theatre, presented by the Hastleons.
When I first heard their plans to produce the show, I was worried.
Many years ago I had the pleasure of watching Yul Brynner play King Mongkut on his final tour before his death.
Brynner was the ultimate King of Siam, always was, always would be. So I didn’t think any other production could compare. Especially when presented by an amateur dramatics society.
I needn’t have worried though. All the drama, passion and cultural diversity is in this production.
Is there anyone who doesn’t know the story of Anna and the King? Of the beautiful and unspoken love between two people from different cultures for whom fate had only a briefest time to grant them.
But it is not only the King of Siam and the British school teacher, Anna, who suffer from forbidden love. There is also the tragic tale of Tuptim – a young bride, gifted to the King, and Lun Tha, her beloved. For these young lovers, they have only a few stolen moments as they risk everything to stay together.
The King and I is more than just a love story. It is a meeting of worlds, old and new, where cultures clash yet find peace in understanding. Of politics and modernisation in the ancient world.
Steve Corke, as the King of Siam, struts across the stage with the same command and vulnerability of his predecessor Yul Brynner.
Zola Thomas is perfectly cast as the charming Anna Leonowens with a voice reminiscent of Julie Andrews, especially when she sings ‘Getting to Know You’.
Cathy Brown is a wonderful Lady Thiang, the King’s chief wife and mother of the future monarch, Prince Chulalongkorn. Especially when she sings ‘Something Wonderful’.
Then there is the deliciously intimidating King’s Prime Minister, who is played perfectly by Michael Woodhams.
Two of my favourite performers in this production are Kai Cooper and Natalie Spencer as the tragic lovers Lun Tha and Tuptim. Their voices merge in two perfect songs, ‘We Kiss in the Shadows’ and ‘I have Dreamed’. I am sure these two actors have a wonderful future ahead of them.
There is just so much to love here. The cast are all enchanting, right down to the youngest at just three years old. The costumes are stunning and treat for the eyes.
Directed by Leslie Adams, this is his 13th outing with The Hastleons and I think one of his best.
With music directed by Clare Adams, and choreography by Royah Hamed, this is a show that mustn’t be missed.
The King and I is at The White Rock Theatre until Saturday, October 26, at 7.30pm, with a 2.30pm Saturday matinee.
Tickets cost £14 (under 16s £10, groups of six or more £13).
Call the box office on 01424 462288 or visit www.whiterocktheatre.org.uk.
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