by Lorie Lewis Ham
It has been a month of classic musicals for us at KRL, ending now with another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, The King and I, currently on stage at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater in Fresno.
I remember as a child watching the movie many times, but I’ve only seen it on stage once before, several years ago. The basic story is that of a British widow named Anna going to Siam with her son to teach the king’s children. She finds herself shocked by many of their customs, and he by her boldness. The story is fun, sometimes funny, and at moments touching as the two learn to know and appreciate each other. There is also a good message in the story of a king trying to become a better man for his country and change for the times–and wanting the best for his children. There is also a second storyline of forbidden love. Familiar songs include “I Whistle A Happy Tune,” and “Hello Young Lovers.” A favorite moment for me was when the King and Anna dance.
Tess Mize has a lovely voice and was perfect as the bold, but very proper, Anna. George Akina was absolutely wonderful as The King, and they worked beautifully together. George as the King is gruff and demanding where needed, but also funny with a tender heart that grows thanks to Anna. Kindle Cowger played Tuptim, the young girl with the forbidden love. She too has a lovely voice. Musically my favorite songs were those with her and Dominic Grijalva, who played her love Lun Tha. Dominic has an amazing voice. One of their songs, “We Kiss in a Shadow,” is another very familiar one. Many of the beautiful songs in this show have been recorded by several famous performers through the years. But my favorite moments were with Tess and George–they have a great chemistry together. And the gaggle of kids were adorable. The set was also well done, and the costumes were beautiful.
If you are looking for a lovely classic musical to go see, I highly recommend The King and I. For health reasons, the King is double cast, as George Akina is battling prostate cancer–which you would never be able to tell watching him on stage. He is simply amazing and made more so by never letting his illness stop him from doing what he loves. George performs on Thursday and Saturday evenings, and Sunday matinees. Dindo Dizon plays the roll of the King on Friday and Sunday evening performances.
The King and I continues until May 18. Tickets can be purchased on their website or by calling the box office 559-266-9494 or 800-371-4747. You can also keep up with Roger Rocka’s shows on their KRL event page.
You can find more theatre reviews and entertainment articles in KRL’s arts & entertainment section.