When Yul Brynner died in 1985, fans the world over feared that the role he made famous, as the King of Siam in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The King and I,” would never quite be portrayed in the same way.
But now, the in Mattituck has created a glorious
revival of “The King and I” that would have made even the legendary Yul Brynner proud.
The story of “The King and I” centers on a widow, Anna, played here with poignant grace by Lauren Sisson, who travels to Siam to accept a job as
schoolteacher for the King of Siam’s many children. With the North Fork Community Theater close to reaching the first phase of a fundraising goal of $500,000 to purchase the building in which their shows are staged — the group needs to raise approximately $105,000 by its August deadline — “The King and I” was the perfect choice, to showcase the wondrous scale of magic the NFTC is capable of conjuring on its humble stage.
The show, which runs over three hours, is an ambitious undertaking, but NFTC rises to the challenge. With a rich score and a talented cast, the musical breathes new life into a Broadway classic.
Laura Jones, director of the show, said she grew up with the melodies of
Rodgers and Hammerstein, and with timeless musicals including “Carousel”
and “Oklahoma!,” cooing along as a baby to the voice of Broadway legends such as Gordon McCrae.
“But ‘The King and I’ was different,” she said. “Who was this Yul Brynner? My
mother was familiar with him and, as a young girl, I was intrigued. Was it because the King was so different? Was it that Siam was a completely foreign world to me? My early love for the musical theater became blended with a child’s curiosity, and Rodgers and Hammerstein were changing the world -- one child at a time.”
Rusty Kransky, who portrays the King in this NFTC revival, would have big
shoes to fill -- if the King, in fact, wore shoes. But he enchants audiences; imbuing his King with a masterful presence softened by humor and a heartaching vulnerability, as he struggles to shatter the misconception that his citizens are “barbarians.”
When Kransky, during his spot-on incarnation as the King, utters the much-beloved “etc., etc., etc.” line, that Brynner made famous, the audience couldn’t help but smile.
Costumes by Diane Peterson, Irene Bradley, Babette Cornine, and Susan Hedges
transport the audience back to Siam with their vibrant colors; Anna’s skirts are perfectly showcased as she whirls around the stage with Kransky during the famous “Shall We Dance?” number.
And dance, the cast does, with grace and spirited energy; choreographer Katie Sousa deserves loud applause for a re-creation of a dance scene between the King and his Anna that lives on in theatrical history.
Young star-crossed lovers Jessica Raven, who plays Tuptim, and James Stevens,
who portrays Lun Tha, bring a sense of realistic yearning and newborn passion to their roles. And perhaps the greatest scene stealers of the show are the King’s children. From the very youngest toddler, the children inject energy, innocence, and an adorable realism into a stellar production.
Rodgers and Hammerstein faithfully delivered the gift of music to their audiences, and the NFTC’s talented musicians bring timeless favorites to life. As
the strains of “Hello Young Lovers” wafts gently out onto the spring air, and the audience hums along to “Getting to Know You,” theater goers know that “Something Wonderful” is happening on the NFTC’s stage in Mattituck.
Dont miss the last weekend of this stand-out production. The show will run
Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 — call 631-298-6328 or click here to purchase online.
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