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‘The King and I’ opens DMTC’s theater season

Anna (Chris Cay Stewart) gets to know her royal host King Mongkut (Mark Suarez) in DMTC’s production of “The King and I.”  Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

By
From page A7 | August 31, 2011 |

What: Davis Musical Theatre Company production of “The King and I”

When: 8:15 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:15 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 9 to Oct. 2

Where: DMTC Performing Arts Center, 607 Peña Drive

Tickets: $18 general, $16 for students and seniors, $14 per person for groups of 10 or more; plus a $2-per-ticket facility fee; www.dmtc.org or (530) 756-3682

With a noble lineage that includes Rodgers and Hammerstein and a king’s ransom of Tonys and Oscars, the universally loved “The King and I” is the first jewel in the Davis Musical Theatre Company’s new season on Friday, Sept. 9.

Directed and choreographed by Jan Isaacson, and musical direction by Steve Isaacson, “The King and I” recounts the story of a resolute school teacher, Anna, who is summoned to Siam to tutor the king’s many children.

The show is brimming with memorable classics, such as “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Shall We Dance?,” “Something Wonderful” and “Getting to Know You.”

In 1950, Gertrude Lawrence was looking for a starring vehicle for herself. Margaret Landon’s book, “Anna and the King of Siam,” had been published six years earlier and was sent to Lawrence. Although she was better known for her work in plays as opposed to musicals, Lawrence purchased the rights to adapt the book for the stage.

Cole Porter and Noel Coward were considered originally for the musical, but a chance meeting with Oscar Hammerstein’s wife, Dorothy, changed everything. Dorothy had read the book in 1944, and at Lawrence’s request, recommended her husband to consider it as a musical.

But Rodgers and Hammerstein did not like the book because it consisted of disconnected short stories about Anna’s life in Siam with no connective storyline. After seeing a 1946 film adaptation of the book, Rodgers and Hammerstein saw how they could bring the stories together into one storyline.

However, they were more concerns, specifically about Lawrence herself. Her voice — once great — had diminished over the years, but they admired her stage presence enough to give the musical project a green light.

The show opened on March 29, 1951, ran for 1,246 performances over three years and garnered three Tony Awards. In later years, several revivals were mounted that included Yul Brynner in the role that made him famous. The last was in 1985 just shortly before Brynner’s death.

The most recent Broadway revival, in 1996, starred Lou Diamond Phillips and took home the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.

“The King and I” will be presented at 8:15 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:15 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 9 through Oct. 2, at the DMTC Performing Arts Center, 607 Peña Drive in Davis.

Tickets are $18 general, $16 for students and seniors and $14 per person for groups of 10 or more. All tickets are subject to a $2-per-ticket facility fee. Tickets are available online at www.dmtc.org or by calling (530) 756-3682.

DMTC’s 2011-12 season continues with “Bye, Bye, Birdie,” Nov. 4-27; “Chicago,” Jan. 6-29; “Damn Yankees,” Feb. 24-March 18; “Titanic: The Musical,” April 13-May 6; and “Hairspray,” June 22-July 15.

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