A Wave Review
This past weekend The Rockaway Theatre Company followed up its wildly successful season opener, Nunsense, with yet another smash musical production. The King and I, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s delightful tale of a Welsh schoolteacher’s relationship with the King of Siam, based on the real-life story of Anna Leonowens, played to sell-out crowds in the first of a three weekend run. Kudos to the show’s producer, Susan Jasper, and its Musical Director/Orchestra Conductor, Scott Battaglia. However, the lion’s share of the credit for the production’s success goes to the marvelous direction of John Gilleece.
The title roles are played by the incredibly talented Rob Fahn and Nancy Sturgis, respectively. Mr. Fahn is an accomplished actor whose range is far beyond the norm for community theater. His playful yet regal stance and movement is reminiscent of the great Yul Brynner’s portrayal of the role. Nancy Sturgis is a remarkable actress who captures every nuance of the headstrong and complex Lady Anna. Her beautiful voice is a joy to the ear, especially in her renditions of such classics as "Getting to KnowYou" and "Shall We Dance"
The truly amazing element of this production is that Nancy’s is not the only outstanding voice. Lady Thiang, played by Arlene Kane, brings chills to audience members with her rendition of the lovely, "Something Wonderful" while the ill fated lovers, Tuptim (Shuwen Hsieh) and Lun Tha (David Risley) are sadly touching in their outstanding duet performances of "We Kiss In A Shadow" and "I Have Dreamed", two of the most beautiful love songs in American Musical Theater.
The action of the play is set in and around the Royal Palace of Siam. RTC set designers, James Cantirino and Frank Caiati have created incredibly lavish sets exuding an atmosphere of imperial opulence. Not to be outdone, Peggy Vivino, RTC costume designer, has filled the stage of the Post Theatre with an array of rich, colorful and ostentatious eastern costumes and more hoops than Madison Square Garden during NBA playoffs.
The piece de resistance is, of course, the King’s adorable children, who manage to have the audience loving them quite "extraordinarily" by the show’s end.
The King and I is one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most beloved plays. It contains a score that speaks volumes to everyone, but contains a special hello to young lovers. It is not at all surprising that most audience members were heard "whistling a happy tune" while exiting the theater last weekend.
However, if you are planning on "Getting to Know" this show, you’d better call the RTC reservations hotline, immediately. According to RTC House Manager, Peggy Page, performances for the upcoming weekend, July 15, 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. and a matinee on the 18 at 2 p.m. are very nearly sold out. To reserve a seat all you have to do is pick up your phone and dial 718-850-2450. When prompted, state your name, phone number, the number of tickets you want, which performance you want to attend, ETC., ETC., ETC! With The Rockaway Theatre Company’s smash hit production of The King and I running for only two more weekends, what you are waiting for is quite frankly "A PUZZLEMENT!"