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"Shea Curry and Jason Raize play Tuptim and Lun Tha. They must convince us they're walking on eggs even while they're raising the roof with song, and they do it all without a hitch."
--Allentown Morning Call review of The King and I


 





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<< Springfield, MA Union-News review of Jesus Christ Superstar

The Morning Call (Allentown, PA)
'King and I' Rules Beautifully
at Bucks County Playhouse

by John Flautz
July 30, 1994



Allentown Morning Call review of Oklahoma! at the Bucks County Playhouse >>

"The King and I" at Bucks County Playhouse is a fine example of a fairly large-scale show produced successfully on a fairly small-scale budget. Voices and costumes count heavily in the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, and if the principals can also act some economies in set and musical accompaniment will hardly be noticed.

Producer/director Guil Fisher has put his company's effort in the right places. His cast sounds great and the singers look good while they're in the spotlight. If the set shows some non-matching edges and the music comes from a synthesizer instead of an orchestra, maybe Siam in the 1860s went in for more rough-hewn architecture than costlier stage fantasies suggest. Certainly Richard Rodgers' music is beautiful, even electronically deconstructed. A good bit of the Once Tom's Cabin ballet, which is all percussion and rasping "Oriental" brass timbres, actually sounds better than ever, synthesized.

As for acting, Oscar Hammerstein Jr. could get more emotional mileage than you'd ever imagine out of a story in which nothing ever actually comes to a climax. Schoolmistress Anna and the King of Siam almost fall in love, but stiff Victorian reserve on one hand and almost pathological (to Western eyes) preserved dignity on the other prove insuperable barriers. The harem beauty Tuptim and the Burmese envoy Lun Tha do fall in love, shyly and fearfully, but their love is forbidden and their desperate revolt against the rules almost succeeds, but ends in disaster.

Lady Thiang, the King's favorite by reason of her being the mother of his heir apparent, is almost jealous of his infatuation with European ways and the European woman who has come to Bangkok, but chooses his happiness over her own. Feelings clash with customs and manners, and the cast conveys the feelings powerfully even while acting out the contrary formalities.

Colleen Tueth, who is proving herself the local attraction to see in the summer of '94, plays Anna to Christian De Vries' King Mongkut. Both are excellent stage vocalists, although maybe neither has the kind of voice that makes rivers stand still to listen. Both can take over a stage, and it's a pleasure to watch their mutual repulsion turn into improbable chemistry.

Shea Curry and Jason Raize play Tuptim and Lun Tha. They must convince us they're walking on eggs even while they're raising the roof with song, and they do it all without a hitch. Marcia Montane plays Lady Thiang and probably sings best of all.

Sean Burger as the captain whose ship brings Anna to Siam, Rob Skolits as the King's loyal, intensely conservative minister, and D.C. Mann as a British diplomat taken aback by Siamese ways but game to the end, are especially good in lesser roles.

James A. Weiss is musical director. Dawn M. Hamblin coordinated costumes. Mark Barnhart designed sets and lighting, and Steven Smeltzer choreographed.

"The King and I" continues through Aug. 7 at Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope. Information: 215-862-2041. 

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