Friday, 26 February 2016

The King and I | Phoenix Theatre Company

I recently wrote a piece for this blog about why I love amateur theatre (you can read it here if you haven't already) where I discussed a fairly new company that is operating in my local area called Phoenix Theatre. Before Christmas I headed to one of their rehearsals for this year's show, The King and I, and last week I finally got to watch the show in performance. Having seen a chunk of it in rehearsal I was eager to see how this translated on to the stage and whether the show would live up to my expectations. Admittedly I might be a little bias because I know some of the cast members but in all honesty I really enjoyed the show and it is up there with one of the best amateur productions I've seen in my local area.

The story of The King and I is simple: a female teacher, originally from England, goes to work for the King of Siam teaching his many wives and children but in the end teaches him a thing or two as well. I won't give any spoilers (although I'd be surprised if you haven't seen the film or a production of it as it's a very popular show) but I even shed a few tears at the end which I really didn't expect to. There was a real range of ages in the cast including some very young children and I was impressed with the cohesion and camaraderie I felt during the show. I thought the vocals were strong from both the principals and the chorus members. Highlights for me included Something Wonderful (one of my favourite show tunes ever I might add), as well as We Kiss in the Shadows and the classic Getting to Know You which featured the whole ladies/children's chorus, along with Tina Stephenson as Mrs Anna, and was a lot of fun to watch.

One of the unusual things about The King and I is that it features a show within a show- a short ballet is performed by the King's wives and children and breaks the fourth wall in terms of how its set. This was very well choreographed by Lindsey Grant and featured some very talented and natural dancers as well as showcasing vocal agility from a select group of ladies. I hadn't expected to enjoy this section as much as I did.

What really brought the show to life for me was the costumes. They were an assortment of beautiful bright colours and fabrics that really stood out on the stage and made it very visually appealing as you can see in the top photo. Combined with a simple but effective set and wonderful choreography, the show really was a treat for the eyes and the company really did justice to Roger and Hammerstein's beautiful score, overall making for a really enjoyable evening at the theatre. If you want to know more about Phoenix Theatre Company or are interested in getting involved (their next show is going to be Annie Get Your Gun next year) then head to their website.


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