King-size cast set for `The King and I'

Pasadena Theatre's musical production to open tomorrow night


April 04, 2002|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Pasadena Theatre Company's production of The King and I - considered by some to be Rodgers and Hammerstein's greatest musical - opens tomorrow night at Chesapeake Arts Center's main theater for a three-weekend stay.

"It's been nonstop work, but now I know we'll have a beautiful show," said Sharon Steele, Pasadena Theatre president and the show's producer.

Among the challenges posed by the production is the size of the cast - nearly 65 members, about 20 of whom are children.

"Not only is the size of the cast a factor, but there are also costuming problems with this show requiring a great and exotic variety," Steele said. "Luckily we have Judy Vollmer to handle those requirements."

The show also has family members working together behind the scenes. Music director Eileen Eaton's son Eric, 20, is the production's assistant director.

"Eric first got involved in theater when he played one of the twins in a Moonlight Troupers production of Peter Pan, and he has been active in the theater ever since with a number of companies like Annapolis Summer Garden Theater. But this is the first time he has worked as assistant director," Eaton said.

For Camelot, she worked with a 14-piece orchestra. The King and I requires 18 pieces, which will be at the side of the stage.

"I wanted the orchestra on the side because it won't be as obtrusive or take attention from the stage, but this arrangement brings other problems. I had to arrange seating for the trumpets so they could project across the stage, thus being able to play at enough volume to keep a nice tone," she said.

Eaton said the score is "elegant and a very great treat," containing some of Richard Rodgers' most lyrical melodies and Oscar Hammerstein's most memorable words in songs such as "My Lord and Master," "Getting to Know You," "Shall We Dance" and "Something Wonderful."

The cast is headed by Peggy Dorsey as Anna Leonowens, the English governess who comes to Siam to teach the king's children, and Chuck Richards, who will play the king.

In major supporting roles are Tony Anzalone as the Kralahome (prime minister); Anne Staunton as Lady Thiang, the king's headmistress; Theresa Riffle as Tuptim and Jason Kimmell as Lun Tha.

Performances will be at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday and April 12, 13, 19 and 20, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 14 and 21 at Chesapeake Arts Center's main theater. Information and tickets: the arts center, 410-636-6597.

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