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Hi Nuria: here are the two articles from the local paper

Theater review: "The King and I"

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“The King and I�

Ash Lawn Opera Festival

7:30 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday Aug. 6 and 2 p.m. Sunday Aug. 7

Lecture begins an hour before curtain

Paramount Theater

Saturday and Sunday: $47, $42 and $37. Thursday: $42, $37 and $32

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By: By CLARE AUKOFER |

 Daily Progress theater reviewer
Published: July 29, 2011

 It doesn’t get much better than this.

“This� would be “The King and I,� which opened at the Paramount Saturday night. This lavish, beautifully acted and gloriously sung production, reviewed at final dress rehearsal, is arguably the best locally produced musical seen here in years.

The Paramount, as most of Charlottesville knows, is now home base for Ash Lawn Opera. But don’t let the word “opera� scare you off.

“The King and I� is a perennial favorite, one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s best-loved musicals. This based-on-a-true-story tale of an Englishwoman employed to teach at the request of the King of Siam features songs that endure, including “Hello Young Lovers,� “Getting to Know You� and “Shall We Dance.�

It helps that the performers are opera singers, though that hasn’t always been the case forAsh Lawn. There were times when the young performers could sing, but couldn’t act well. This production gives us singers who act as well as they sing, and also features a bevy of local talent, including a number of area children as the king’s offspring.

There is a nuanced chemistry between Elizabeth Andrews Roberts as Anna and Seth Mease Carico as the king. Both are undeniably talented; Roberts’ pure, rich soprano and solid acting bring to light all the shades of the character and do full justice to the well-loved songs.

Carico sneaks up on you; if you saw last year’s shows, you might not reconcile his regal presence to the clever servant he played in last year’s production of “Don Giovanni� or to the funny sidekick in “Brigadoon.�

He is masterful as the king, with a voice so rich you could sink into it, complemented by superb acting. The two together are electric.

There simply is no bad singing, or acting. Brandy Lynn Hawkins is extraordinarily moving as Lady Thiang, with a unique richness of tone, and Megan Weston equally but differently good as Tuptim.

And conductor John Kalbfleisch gives us an orchestra with full, rich but never overwhelming music.

It shouldn’t be surprising that the show has come together so well. Directing this lush production is Baayork Lee, who, at 6, was in the original Broadway cast as PrincessYing, and has been in professional theater ever since, as dancer, actor and director.  Her perfectionism was evident even at rehearsal. 

Lee has brought with her as assistant director and choreographer Susan Kikuchi, who also has spent her life in professional theater. She’s given us exceptional dances (and dancers). When music, acting and dance come together this well, a show can be unstoppable.

Add to that more than 100 stunning costumes by world-famous costume designer Nuria Carrasco, brought from New York for the occasion, and the effect is breathtaking. Such rich costumes do more than just look pretty; they help the actor become the character within the clothing.

What’s amazing is that the Paramount stage is still a movie theater stage, with no fly space or large backstage area to accommodate a bodacious set. Here, the cast and costumes become the set, complemented by set designer Margie Jervis’ simple and effective movable batik panels and minimal furniture, and subtle lighting effects by Scott Wirtz-Olsen.

The only thing wrong with the show seems to be that it runs for just five performances.

'The King and I' has royal pedigree

Related

“The King and I�

Ash Lawn Opera Festival

7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Thursday; continues Aug. 6 and 7

Lecture begins an hour before curtain

Paramount Theater

Saturday and Sunday: $47, $42 and $37. Thursday: $42…

view more 

By: JANE NORRIS 
Published: July 29, 2011

When the curtain rises Saturday on Ash Lawn Opera Festival’s production of “The King and I,� the commanding main character won’t be the only Broadway royalty in the house.

Baayork Lee, who played Princess Ying in the original Broadway production of the Richard Rodgers-Oscar Hammerstein II musical, is in the director’s chair, leading the second show of Ash Lawn Opera’s season.

The thrill of that first experience of Broadway magic turned a wide-eyed child into a focused student of theater — and a lifelong fan of the musical.

“This show changed my life,� Lee said. “I was 5 years old, and I made my mind up at 5 that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to dance. I wanted to be in the theater.

“I’ve come full circle — I’m directing ‘The King and I.’ It’s an honor to be here and to be giving it to a new generation.�

Layers of sentiment make the Ash Lawn experience meaningful for her. Lee is working once more with longtime friend and frequent collaborator Susan Kikuchi, who ischoreographer and associate director.

Kikuchi was 7 when she first appeared in “The King and I,� and she and Lee formed a friendship while both appeared in “Flower Drum Song.� Both were spellbound by what they experienced, though Lee said that Kikuchi gravitated more toward modern dance, while Lee found her calling in musical theater.

“We have local dancers, and they are learning the original Jerome Robbinschoreography� from Kikuchi, Lee said.

“Susie and I have lived ‘The King and I.’ Susan’s mother was the original lead dancer — and I watched her dance, and that was what I wanted to be. I think that because I was so focused as a child, I didn’t have any distractions, and here I am.

“I’m so lucky, because in my life in musical theater, I’ve been blessed, and I’ve just let it happen.�

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