The Production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The King and I” is Royal

Written By Scott Rigtrup, Contributing Writer for InFluential Magazine

Photography courtesy of Matthew Murphy.

On Tuesday, December 12, Lexus Broadway in Austin presented by Texas Performing Arts opened its 2017 – 2018 season with a proverbial bang with their presentation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The King and I”.

The cast of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I.

The cast of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.

Opening night was truly a step back in time and a journey to a far off land.  The setting was Siam. The time was long before the modern day Thailand might ever have been imagined.  These were the times of pomp and pageantry.  These were the times of deep seated traditions and customs that were brought to bear upon the savy English widow Anna Leonowens, the “school teacher”, and her young son Louis as Anna enters the employ of the King of Siam.

Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I.

Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.

The feeling of joy felt throughout the audience was palpable as the Bass Concert Hall filled with the classic and familiar tune “I Whistle a Happy Tune” as Anna and Louis stepped off the boat with great trepidation and on to their new homeland.  Equally enthralling was watching Anna being introduced to the numerous royal wives and even more numerous royal children while singing “Getting to Know You” in the royal court.

Laura Michelle Kelly as Anna in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I.

Laura Michelle Kelly as Anna in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.

Inevitably, amidst this newly forged arrangement, tensions arise as Anna must delicately, yet firmly, navigate a foreign society and a royal household known for great civility and even greater incivility.  These tensions come more acutely to light as we learn of the king’s personal struggles of being in absolute barbaric power before his subjects while privately and quite humbly, at times, questioning the very nature of the expansive world surrounding him.

Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I.

Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.

Not surprisingly, the bullying egocentric attitude of the king and Anna’s proud obstinate disposition make the plot ripe for confrontation both petty and literally deadly.  Yet, sweet undertones of admiration and respect for one another develop amidst their strife, and devotion flourishes as these unlikely companions become the greatest of allies.  As the final curtain fell, it was hard not to feel a great sense hope of being able to come together as one people.  For surely, if the barbarian king and the proper English lady can do it, then so can we.

Lexus Broadway in Austin presented by Texas Performing Arts

The Lincoln Center Theatre Production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I

December 12 – 17, 2017

Tuesday – Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Bass Concert Hall | 2350 Robert Dedman Drive | Austin, TX 78712

Start at $30.Tickets are available at BroadwayinAustin.com, texasperformingarts.org, the Bass Concert Hall ticket office, all Texas Box Office Outlets, by phone at (512) 477-6060.  For groups of 10 or more, call (877) 275-3804 or email Austin.groups@broadwayacrossamerica.com

RENT 20th Anniversary Tour Coming To Austin October 13 – 15, 2017 Tickets on Sale Friday, August 18 at 10:00 A.M.

Lexus Broadway in Austin presented by Texas Performing Arts

The RENT 20th Anniversary Tour

October 13 – 15, 2017

                        Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m. 

Bass Concert Hall | 2350 Robert Dedman Drive | Austin, TX 78712

Tickets start at $30.Tickets are available at BroadwayinAustin.comtexasperformingarts.org, the Bass Concert Hall ticket office, all Texas Box Office Outlets, by phone at (512) 477-6060.  For groups of 10 or more, call (877) 275-3804 or email Austin.groups@broadwayacrossamerica.com.

(L to R) Danny Harris Kornfeld, Kaleb Wells RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, Credit Carol Rosegg, 2016.

(L to R) Danny Harris Kornfeld, Kaleb Wells
RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, Credit Carol Rosegg, 2016.

Ticket buyers are reminded that the Bass Concert Hall ticket office and all Texas Box Office Outlets are the only official retail ticket outlets for all performances at Bass Concert Hall. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party should be aware that Bass Concert Hall is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.

(L to R) Skyler Volpe, Kaleb Wells RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, Credit Carol Rosegg, 2016.

(L to R) Skyler Volpe, Kaleb Wells
RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, Credit Carol Rosegg, 2016.

In 1996, an original rock musical by a little-known composer opened on Broadway… and forever changed the landscape of American theatre. Two decades later, Jonathan Larson’s RENT continues to speak loudly and defiantly to audiences across generations and all over the world. And now, this Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award®-winning masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. A re-imagining of Puccini’s La Bohème, RENT follows an unforgettable year in the lives of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams without selling out. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters—love.

The Company of the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, Credit Carol Rosegg, 2016.

The Company of the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour
RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, Credit Carol Rosegg, 2016.

The show received its world premiere off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop on February 13, 1996 to ecstatic reviews and transferred to Broadway on April 29, 1996. RENT is winner of the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It is one of only six musicals to win both awards.

Based on the original direction by Michael Greif (Tony and Drama Desk Nominations, RENT), Evan Ensign restages this 20th anniversary tour.  Marlies Yearby (Tony Nomination, RENT) serves as choreographer.

The Company of the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, Credit Carol Rosegg, 2016.

The Company of the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour
RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, Credit Carol Rosegg, 2016.

The RENT 20th Anniversary Tour is produced by Work Light Productions, whose other touring productions include CinderellaMAMMA MIA!, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Vocalosity, and Crazy For You.

TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS is situated on the main campus of one of the largest and most prestigious research universities in the country.  Texas Performing Arts serves The University of Texas at Austin campus and the Austin community at large through a diverse season of world-class fine arts performances, educational activities, and collaborative partnerships.  Texas Performing Arts presents an international season of music, theatre, dance, and conversation in our multiple venues, as well as the best in touring Broadway productions and concert attractions. As a university-based arts center it is also committed to serving the academic mission of the College of Fine Arts by supporting the work of our students, faculty and staff on our stages, classrooms, studios and production shops; and in the educational outreach programs it provides for the Austin community.

BROADWAY ACROSS AMERICA is part of The John Gore Organization family of companies, which includes Broadway.com, under the supervision of 9 time Tony-winning producer John Gore (Owner & CEO). Current and past productions include Beautiful, Cats, Dear Evan Hansen, Fiddler on the Roof, Finding Neverland, Hairspray, Million Dollar Quartet, On Your Feet!, School of Rock and The ProducersBroadwayAcrossAmerica.comBroadway.com

Presented by Texas Performing Arts. Broadway Across America provides production services for Texas Performing Arts. Sales tax exempt pursuant to Texas Tax Code Section 151.3101(a)(3).