The King and I at The Alhambra by iamesphoto.com

Alhambra’s The King and I

The Alhambra Theatre opened Rodgers and Hammerstein’s wonderful musical, The King and I, which has won many Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and was later made into a film starring Yul Brynner which won several Academy Awards. The story is that of Anna, an English governess (Kelly Atkins) who is hired in the early 1860’s to educate the children of the King of Siam (Tony Romero) and prepare them for the modern world. This proves more of a job than she had expected, as she finds a domineering autocratic ruler whose intimidated and submissive subjects value tradition and fear change. What makes this musical particularly interesting is that it’s based on the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, a real-life governess to the royal Siamese court.

This musical has been around for 60 years and has had many successful revivals. In the hands of Director Tod Booth, and an energetic and inspired cast, it is as delightful and enjoyable a performance as we’ve ever seen of this classic.

The fabulous Kelly Atkins has been having a banner year in 2010. After completing a run of Amorous Crossing with Loretta Swit that set attendance records at the Alhambra, she went on to mesmerize audiences with her marvelous voice as Mabel in Pirates of Penzance, a joint production by the Alhambra and the Jacksonville Symphony. Ms. Atkins’s strong stage presence and fantastic voice as Anna adds up to a memorable performance.

With bare feet and shaved head, Tony Romero makes a marvelous king, who sings well, and has excellent comic timing. Having seen a number of actors in this role, including Yul Brynner in London in 1977, we can confidently state that Mr. Romero ranks right up there with the best. The comic moments between Akins and Romero are the glue that really makes this show.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.

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