The King and I

Date 1st December 2017
Society Ponteland Repertory Society
Venue The Memorial Hall, Ponteland
Type of Production Musical
Director Carole Davies

Report

Author: Michael Avery

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I always attracts a good audience, in size and enthusiasm.  This version by Ponteland Rep. was no exception.  Almost a full house, leaning forward in anticipation.  They were not disappointed.

Casting wife and husband, Deborah Barry and Brian Barry as Anna and the King was inspired.  Deborah hides her light under a bushel these days, in the “orchestra pit”.  Tonight she was where she ought to be.  The part of Anna could not have suited her better.  She sang her songs charmingly and with confidence.  When acting, she emphasised both the kindly, loving side of her character as well as the tough side, willing to stand up to a King in a foreign land.

Brian’s stage presence has become obvious over the years and, especially, here.  He made it clear he was a King,  not to be crossed in his own domain.  But, he also exhibited the obverse, a thoughtful, caring man, concerned about family, people and nation.  Despite most people being very familiar with the show, they managed to move us as it comes to its touching dénouement.  Well done, both of them.

Sharon Gauld gave a solid performance as head wife, Lady Thiang, devoted to her King but also appreciating how  he needs to absorb Anna’s influence.  Jason Long was suitably stoic as the Kralahome, the King’s First Minister, supportive but confused by the changes taking place about him.  Zoe Buckthorp was a charming Tup Tim and she and Jonny Woollett (Lun Tha) made an attractive pair of doomed lovers.  The children, including Matthew Johnson (Prince Chulalongkorn) and James Hickey & William Aycliffe (sharing the part of Louis) were charming and, where appropriate amusing. There was able support from Leo Emerson (Captain Orton), Peter Errington (Phra Alack) and Kieran Murray (Sir Arthur)

Singing throughout was confident, accompanied by an effective group of musicians, piano to the fore.  Choreography and movement were well integrated.  The set and costumes (especially those of Anna and the King) were appropriate and attractive.  Lighting was effective and the sound balance, between performers and orchestra sounded pretty-well perfect to me.

I cannot close without mentioning those wonderful songs, including Whistle a Happy Tune, Hello Young Lovers, March of the Siamese Children, A Puzzlement, Getting to Know You,  We Kiss in a Shadow, Something Wonderful, I Have Dreamed, Shall We Dance.  Wow, they don’t write shows like that any more.