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|Premiere of Newly Restored Original OrchestrationsFollowing last season’s triumph of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s CAROUSEL, Lyric Stage Founding Producer Steven Jones has reunited director Cheryl Denson and music director Jay Dias for the world premiere of the newly restored THE KING AND I, featuring a 35-piece orchestra playing the original Robert Russell Bennett orchestrations. Performances are June 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27 @ 8:00 PM and June 21 & 28 @ 2:30 PM. Performances are in the Irving Arts Center’s Carpenter Performance Hall, 3333 N. Mac Arthur Blvd,. Irving, Texas. Tickets, priced from $20-$50, are available online @ www.lyricstage.org or by calling 972-252-2787.
Bruce Pomahac, Director of Music for The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization says, “THE KING AND I is one of the most exciting and important restorations R & H has ever undertaken. For four years we’ve been tracking down and examining the original Broadway scripts, scores and instrumental parts in order to put back into the show pieces of the puzzle that have been missing for over fifty years. To that effect, we are indeed fortunate to once again be joining forces with producer, Steven Jones, director, Cheryl Denson and musical director Jay Dias. A restoration of a Broadway score isn’t complete until it is performed, and Lyric Stage’s June production will be the final step in polishing and perfecting this new edition of one of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s greatest musicals. When the curtain rises in Irving in June, Lyric Stage’s audiences will be seeing and hearing THE KING AND I as it has not been seen and heard since it opened on Broadway in 1951.”
“The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded Lyric Stage a grant enabling us to assemble a full 35-piece orchestra so Robert Russell Bennett’s orchestrations can be heard as they were originally written,” says Lyric Stage Founding Producer Steven Jones. “We have a tremendous cast, headed by Luann Aronson (Christine in Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera and the original Betty Schaeffer in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard at his Sydmonton Festival) as Mrs. Anna and Joe Nemmers, one of North Texas’ finest actors, as the King.” Ya Han Chang is Lady Thiang, Jung Eun Kim is Tup Tim and Adrian Li Donni is Lun Tha. THE KING AND I ensemble includes Brian Mathis, Greg Dulcie, Chamblee Ferguson, Jack VanGorden, Bryse Burris, Edward Andrion, Ben Giddings, Stephen Langton, Thomas Nanthavongdouangsy, David Lee Staggers, Sergio Antonio Garcia, Souk Burrowns, Jason Mayfield, Robert Patrick Paterno, Addison Faith Reed, Kelly McCain, Katherine Gentsch, Molly Welch, Amanda Brown, Angela Moore, Mary McElree, Amy Wells, Erin Nishimura, Jackie Lengfelder, Kathryn Frady, Lauren Godfrey, Pamela Langton, Hani Park, Lucia Welch, Vernecia Vernon, Rachel Legaspi, Kyle Hughes, Mei Li West, Tyler Rouse, Lana Staggers, Adrienne Morales, Chet Monday, Lilly Monday, Christie Fong, Ashley Fong, Alison Fong, Anthony Carrillo and Ashton Miramontes. Choreography is by Ann Nieman.
For their first musical based on a true story, Rodgers & Hammerstein turned to the popular novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, which was based on the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, a 19th century Englishwoman who became governess to the children of the King of Siam. Stage star Gertrude Lawrence brought the project to the team with the desire to star as Mrs. Anna.
Casting Gertrude Lawrence as Anna was the easy part. Finding a King was another story. Noel Coward, Rex Harrison and Alfred Drake all turned the role down. Mary Martin recommended Yul Brynner, a young dancer that she had worked with in Lute Song, for the role. At his audition, Brynner walked out onto the stage of the St. James Theatre, sat cross-legged on the floor and, in Richard Rodgers’ words, “plunked one whacking chord on his guitar and began to howl in a strange language that no one could understand…We had our king.”
THE KING AND I opened at Broadway’s St. James Theater on March 29, 1951, and ran for three years (1,246 performances). It won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and honors for both of its stars. Ultimately, the musical that was conceived by one star, and made a star out of another, has transcended its star vehicle status to live on as a classic in its own right. Oscar Hammerstein II wrote to his partner, Richard Rodgers in 1956: “I am convinced that this is our best work. I have a kind of humble feeling of not knowing how we did it. It has more wisdom as well as heart than any other musical play by anybody. It will remain ‘modern’ long after any of our other plays.”
Performances of THE KING AND I are June 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27 @ 8:00 PM and June 21 & 28 @ 2:30 PM. Performances are in the Irving Arts Center’s Carpenter Performance Hall, 3333 N. Mac Arthur Blvd,. Irving, Texas. For tickets, visit www.lyricstage.org or call 972-252-2787.