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Review - The King & I

Malea Ritz
The Braintree Patch
May 21, 2011
High Demand Justified for 'The King and I' at Curtain Call Theatre

 The play has its final performance tonight at 8 p.m. at the theatre on Commercial Street in Braintree. Cheerful piano tunes and an uplifting orchestra introduce an unlikely love story between two characters that seem complete opposites. The King and I drew a large crowd to the Curtain Call Theatre on Thursday, May 19, selling out not only for the night, but all other shows for the weekend too.

Directed by Martha Sawyer and produced by Patti O'Rourke, the play depicts the story of an English schoolteacher and her son's transition adjusting to the new culture of Bangkok. The schoolteacher, Anna, played by Christine Kenney, has been summoned to teach the multiple wives and children of the king, played by Michael Tow.

Kenney's character is skeptical about the people of Bangkok, but over time comes to love and accept them. She helps to prove to Europe that the king is not the barbarian he is widely thought of as. In the end, Anna and the king realize they enjoy each other's company much more than they had planned.

The play is based on the book Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon. The music is by Richard Rogers and the book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein. Kenney and Tow have very tangible chemistry and seem naturally comfortable together. Tow's stubborn attitude is completely believable and he portrays the king's character perfectly. Kenney's turn as Anna the schoolteacher is kind and loving.

The other characters also display their impressive acting abilities as they effortlessly capture and keep the audience's attention. For instance, the many kids playing the roles of the king's children perform so cutely that when they begged Anna to stay in Bangkok, the audience knew she could not turn them down.

Bright, vibrant colors highlighted in the actors' and actresses' costumes seem to illuminate the stage. The flashy metallics and colorful outfits portray an ethnic vibe for the characters. Anna and her son, Louis (Jeremy Atkins), are of English descent, so instead wear more traditional clothing that looks very accurate. The costumes definitely help set the scene for the play.

Minimal scenery was made up for by the excellent performances. The actors and actresses not only use the stage, but the aisles as well, which helps to involve the audience. Also, the small, close seating of the audience, almost at eye level, provides an intimate experience.

Since most of the characters in the play are of Asian descent, some of the non-Asian actors and actresses are forced to try out the accent. They do well with this, as it is not their native language. Kenney and Atkins also pull off a believable English accent.

Proceeds from the concessions during intermission go toward Curtain Call's scholarship fund. The final showing of The King and I is tonight at 8 p.m., though that performance is also sold out. See the theatre's ticket page (http://www.curtaincallbraintree.org/tickets.html) for more information on the waiting list.