This Rogers and Hammerstein play is one of the great works in the canon of musical theatre.
There is so much heart in this tale, based on a true story, about a widowed English schoolteacher who travels to Siam, now Thailand, to take on the job of the King of Siam’s flock of children.
Rockdale Musical Society, in a production directed by Cathy Boyle, has just completed a very fine revival of this masterpiece, replete with melting moments. It is a production which the Society should be immensely proud of.
Stephen Halstead was suitably regal and arrogant as the King of Siam, a fictional version of the King Mongkut. Halstead showed good dramatic range but also displayed some good light touches, etc, etc, etc….
Charmaine Gibbs gave a faultless performance as the anything but demure British widow, Anne Leonowens.
Tisha Kelemens was a stand-out as the King’s proud chief wife Lady Thiang and she thrilled the audience with her rich, strong voice.
Natalie Rose Cassanti gave a heartfelt, luminous performance as Tuptim, one of the King’s junior wives, formerly a slave in Burma, who rebels and falls in love with Lun Tha, a Burmese scholar, well played by Jeremy Boulton. The romantic scene played out between Natalie and Jeremy was one of the show’s highlights.
Max Fernandez was very fetching as Anne’s sweet, adorable son, Louis.
Ellis Pinkerton, playing the King’s oldest son and heir Prince Chulalongkorn made the most of his big scene when the dying King hands over the reins of power to him.
The large supporting cast playing the King’s wives, the Amazons who protect them, his many children and an array of Ballet dancers each made important contributions to the show.
As indeed did Boyle’s impressive creative team – Bob Peet’s very functional set, Keely Soulsby’s choreographer, and Musical Director Ian Buchanan and his very fine, lush sounding orchestra.
Rockdale Musical Society’s impressive production of THE KING AND I played the Rockdale Town Hall between the 3rd and the 13th March.