The King and I. QMTS. The Core, Solihull. June 2016
From the moment the overture started the audience knew we were in for a treat and this well cast production of the Rogers and Hammerstein classic musical did not disappoint .
Jill Beaumont played a delightful Miss Anna, her voice was very suited to the musical numbers and never faltered ,I loved the costumes as these easily enabled Jill to appear a little more mature.
One of my favourite songs is “Hello young lovers “and this remains a highlight of the production for me. The king was played by Steve Harris, His manner strong, commanding and authoritative throughout. Number one wife, Lady Thiang was in fact played by Steve’s actual wife Gilly Harris. I must also mention Huiyi Lu and Cyril Ma (Tuptim and Lun Tha her forbidden love ) both had perfect characterisations of the roles. “I have Dreamed “ was memorable for me. Last for a mention but most important are the children, on the performance I attended I had the pleasure of team ……………. they were all without exception well drilled and didn’t put a foot wrong. I would like to also mention the parts of Louis and Price Chulalongkorn both of whom were played very confidently by girls ………………………..delivered her dialogue with such character.
All of the above were very well supported by the numerous Wives, dancers and priests. Everyone appeared well rehearsed under the watchful eye of director Michelle Farrugia the whole company received lots of very positive audience feedback, many were heard humming and singing the well-known melody’s during the interval and whilst paying for car park.
The Orchestra were well under control and at no point did they overpower the cast (as can often be the case) I was impressed by Daniel’s enthusiastic conducting.
Colourful lavish costumes added to the spectacle along with some simple choreography where required.
Congratulations to all concerned on this production, thank you for your hospitality and inviting me to the production. I had a very enjoyable few hours viewing one of my favourite musicals, well done.
Review by Joyce Eyre (Noda)
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At The Core, Soliuhll QMTS “The King and I” by Rodgers and Hammerstein II.. We had a different production team this year comprising director, Michelle Farrugia, musical director, Daniel Ephgrave but retaining the choreographer, Hattie Stark. This is a show based on a novel depicting, Anna a widowed British schoolteacher brought to Siam to tutor the King’s many children. When she arrives, though she enjoys an instant connection to the students, she struggles with cultural differences and with the headstrong King. Through her kindness and persistence, Anna eventually connects with the King, helping to fuel mutual feelings of social understanding and cultural acceptance and openness. QMTS and the production team took on this great Rogers & Hammerstein musical and did it proud. The show opened, with the full Overture before moving onto the deck of the Chow Phya where we were introduced to Anna, played by Jill Beaumont, and her son Louis, played by Millie Summlar. Jill gave a strong believable performance throughout dealing with the cultural differences and emotions with great effect. Millie performed the role as her son well, singing “Whistle a Happy Tune” with his mother with a lot of feeling. Captain Orton (Craig Cattell) did his best to offer advice to Anna and Louis but he had met his match and eventually left them to the tender mercies of the Orient. The presentation by Steve Harris as The King came over very well, this was a strong performance given with sincerity, his rendition of “A Puzzlement” being the conundrum that he carried throughout the show. The King’s, current senior wife Lady Thiang, played with deep feeling, by Gilly Harris was masterful, particularly the song “Something Wonderful”. Prince Chulalongkorn played by Molly-Rose Berrow really came to his fore when he put on record how he was going to fulfill the King’s vision for the future of Siam. The Kralahome (Gareth Knipe) and Sir Edward Ramsay (Roy Vears), as representatives of Siam and Great Britain respectively, presented fine figures for their positions, and gave the audience believable performances. The two lovers Tuptim played by Huiyi (Zoe) Lu and Lun Tha played by Cyril Ma, were ideally cast and performed in a very believable way, their song “We Kiss in a Shadow” being most poignantly presented. The show, of course, has ample opportunity to utilise a large chorus ensemble needing ‘The Royal Wives’, ‘The Priests of Siam’ not forgetting ‘The Royal Children’, these groups all served not only to fill the stage but to add great character and depth to the production. “Getting to Know You” with Anna and the chorus was well handled as was the incorporation of the ballet, “The Small House of Uncle Thomas” which was well sung and danced by the Chorus. Whilst thinking of dancing, the scene with Anna teaching the King to dance in the Library to, “Shall We Dance” will remain with us for some time. There were many other memorable moments such as “The March of the Siamese Children” when we were introduced to Anna’s charges and the Kings many wives, but “Hello, Young Lovers” sung by Anna has to be at the top. In summary this was a show that QMTS should be proud of. It flowed well, it was performed with enthusiasm and the audience appreciated it. Technically the set worked well, the audience could both see and hear all that went on and the stage pictures were all very pretty to look at. Many congratulations on a good production.
The Birmingham Theatre District Guild June 2016