note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Beverly Creasey
You hear Richard Rogers’ lush, majestic music as soon as the overture begins and you know THE KING AND I is an extraordinary musical. This clash of cultures is a battle of wills between David Scannell’s charming, charismatic King of Siam and Sarah Pfisterer’s firm, but gracious, British governess. Pfisterer manages to make a familiar song like “Getting to Know You” seem new. That’s what distinguishes the Reagle Player’s spirited production (playing only through next weekend): Director Bob Eagle keeps the story fresh.
Moreover, Jerome Robbins’ shimmering ballet in Act II elevates the show to another level. Gemze DeLappe, who danced in the Broadway original, recreates the gorgeous choreography, with Michiko Takemasa leading the troupe in the elegant, graceful gestural movements of traditional Thai dance. Even the King bends his fingers back like the dancers, and of course, he proves that he can master a mean polka in the exuberant “Shall We Dance?”
Lydia Gaston gives a fiercely intelligent performance as Wife Number One. It is she who negotiates the peace and Gaston radiates serenity. Marcus Calderon and Yuki Sugita make the young lovers’ plight so compelling that people gasped when they were apprehended.
Alec McHugh holds his own with the Broadway folk as the clever son of “Mrs. Anna” and R. Glen Michell gives a wry performance as the British Lord who once, almost, asked for Mrs. Anna’s hand. This lovely production has it all: history, romance, suspense and above all, genuine affection.