OBSP’s THE KING AND I: A Royal Treat

by J. Gary Hellwig

THE KING AND I is based on Margaret Landon’s best-selling semi-fictionalized biographical novel “Anna and the King of Siam,” about the life of Anna Leonowens, a Welsh schoolteacher who travels from England to Siam (now Thailand) to serve as tutor to the king’s many children and wives. The two strong personalities repeatedly clash but in the grand tradition of adversarial love stories, they eventually fall in love with each other. Their story is examined in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s sixth musical and features such delightful songs as “Hello Young Lovers”, “Getting to Know You”, “Shall We Dance?”, “We Kiss in the Shadows”, “Something Wonderful”, “I Have Dreamed”, and “I Whistle a Happy Tune”.

The Off Broad Street Players’ production of THE KING AND I is currently running at the Levoy Theatre in Millville, N.J. and is under the direction of Walter A. Webster. The capable ensemble of accompanists is conducted by Mandy Milne and the reimagined ambience of the newly renovated theatre creates an atmosphere of excitement. The set staging is flat and sparse however and despite a few technical glitches, the overall idea is still there. The large cast includes a multitude of child actors bringing a delightful exuberance to the production. Howard Tate DeRias as Louis and the talented Adam Milne as the Prince are a joy to watch as they meander through the show like old pros.

The ensemble cast keeps things moving with audience pleasing settings like “The March of Siamese Children” and the “Schoolroom Scene”. There are some nicely done dance moments choregraphed by Melissa Keissling, particularly the ballet sequences in “The Small House of Uncle Thomas”, the Siamese interpretation of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,”

Frank DiMauro does a convincing job as the “Kralahome”, right hand man to the King. Other cast members include Doug Eppler as both Captain/Sir Edward Ramsey (handling two different accents quite well) and David Halter as the King.

Costumes were nicely designed by Shaun Laurencio who also plays Lun Tha, the ill fated young lover of Tuptim.

Anna (Stacy Moscotti) comforts her son Louis (Howard Tate DeRias) as Captain Orton (Doug Eppler) oversees the arrival in Siam. (Photo courtesy of OBSP)

Anna (Stacy Moscotti) comforts her son Louis (Howard Tate DeRias) as Captain Orton (Doug Eppler) oversees the arrival in Siam. (Photo courtesy of OBSP)

But the real strength of this production lies in three key performances. Alexis Amanda Milne as Tuptim brings a smile to your face as the young girl brought from Burma as a gift to the King of Siam. She handles the challenging emotional ups and downs with aplomb and delivers a solid vocal performance as well. Kaitlyn Cox is nothing short of sensational. Totally in the zone as Lady Thiang, the King’s chief wife, her elegance on stage and mellifluous singing gave me goosebumps. Her rendition of “Something Wonderful” was just that, something wonderful. And the most important reason to see this show is the tour de force performance of Stacy Moscotti as Anna. Her rich and beautiful rendition of “Hello Young Lovers” is worth the price of admission alone. Her presence on stage is what elevates this production to where it is. She is the entire package, lighting up the stage with an aura of beauty, grace, and professionalism, mixing pathos with panache. I can’t wait to see her in her next project.

OBSP’s presentation of THE KING AND I runs through August 17th and is a royal treat, don’t miss it.

Music by Richard Rodgers
Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Directed by Walter A. Webster

August 8-17, 2014
The Off Broad Street Players
Levoy Theatre
130 N. High Street
Millville, NJ 08332



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