The King And I
Reviewed on Saturday 15th April 2017 by Sebastian Singh
Photo Credit: The Grange Theatre.
This Rodgers and Hammerstein classic follows the story of widowed Anna Loenowens, who becomes a school teacher to the King’s many children and his wives. She also tries to help the stubborn King of Siam come to terms with the modern world and Western culture, but their strong personalities and self-pride often clash and the King ultimately is unable to separate himself from his ancient customs.
The principal cast was strong here, with Rob Earle portraying the King excellently. He managed to balance the ignorance and immaturity of the character with a very charming quality that an audience immediately warmed to. Emma Walker was a wonderful Mrs Anna: she played the part confidently with elegance, warmth and a great singing voice. The song “Shall We Dance” went down a storm in the theatre, where the audience enthusiastically clapped and cheered, as the two leads gracefully yet athletically moved around the stage. Lady Thiang was played by Barbara Turner, who produced a very special moment with “Something Wonderful”, a definite highlight of the show. The supporting cast of principals did very well in the production and showcased a lot of talent within the company.
At times the production felt slow and laboured but this may have been down to the vast amount of cast members to get on and off stage (including 25 children). That said, the children were brilliant and all performed with great enthusiasm; additionally, all accents were performed well, which is hard for a whole cast to carry off and sustain. I applaud the director, Sheryl Haydock-Howorth for this and her attention to detail was fantastic. The choreography by Fiona Walker was lovely in places, especially where children’s upcoming talent was showcased. However, lavish costumes and sheer number of performers restricted its potential due to lack of space. The off-stage band did a marvellous job and the singing was well executed thanks to the musical direction of Treona Holden.
Credit must be given to the technical team of Paul Edwards (Sound), Ian Wiper (Lighting), Lyndsey Downes (Stage Manager) and their assistants. These things are only usually spoken about if things go wrong; when they are seamless, as was tonight, recognition rarely goes there way, so bravo!
Personally, this show feels slightly outdated; there was not much layering and it felt very static and drawn out at times. This is nothing against the company, who performed it with great energy, but it feels like it is lacking something in the modern world of theatre.
This was the closing night of their sold out run and this family favourite certainly pleased the audience, who gave the production a standing ovation at the end. A nice production that made for a pleasant evening out!
The company’s next production in Autumn 2017 will be Sister Act.