Reviewed by Beve Ford
Whenever I sit in the Riverhead Theatre, I could almost believe I am sitting in a West End Theatre.
The atmosphere is always electric and you can feel the backstage excitement as the fantastic and professional orchestra begin the Overture.
Today was no exception and straight away I felt the passion and enthusiasm from the characters.
Having never seen ‘The King & I’ before, I really did not know what to expect or whether indeed I would even understand it!
However, the production was obviously expertly directed (Maureen Lill) and the script was clear and totally understandable.
Cheryl Taylor (Anna Leonowens) was superbly cast in her role and played it with such true professionalism we can only expect from such a talented lady.
I knew from the moment I saw her first costume, that the wardrobe ladies had been very busy. The costumes throughout the whole production were amazing. I found it difficult to believe that they had indeed been individually handmade and not hired from a professional theatrical costume company as I originally thought.
All credit to Shirley Berry and Elizabeth Roger for their amazing skills and obvious flair for making such sensational costumes.
Having previously worked with Jerry Smith (The King of Siam) in a ‘straight’ role I was intrigued to see him in a more upbeat and musical role. He surpassed my imagination and I felt he took on the role of The King with passion.
The husband and wife combination worked extremely well, the bond between them showing through in their many scenes together.
The two duets between Ellie Stocks (Tuptim) and Ian Cahill (Lun Tha) were spine tingling.
My dance teacher once told me that she could tell if something was good when she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up….I felt this, especially during their second duet together in the second act.
The blue lighting, costumes, and the superb casting of these two characters made the love between them feel and look believable.
Susan Munro (Lady Thiang) played a strong role along with her on-stage son Jordan Evans (Prince Chulalongkorn) who is always a pleasure to watch and in my opinion has the makings of a very fine young actor.
The whole cast and chorus gave a thoroughly professional and entertaining performance and both stage sets and lighting added to its believability.
The stage Manager (Bob Booth) and his exceptional backstage team pulled out all the stops once again with the cleverly designed sets and beautifully coloured scenery.
The chorus mainly consisted of children and it was so lovely to see so many of them so obviously enjoying the experience of working with such established actors/actresses.
My final mention has to be for a little princess (played by Madeline Dilks)…. A simple little touch where she tugged on the Kings tunic made my heart melt. This little girl is adorable!.
If you have not yet booked your tickets for this production then you will be missing out on an extremely well directed and performed musical, perfectly suitable for all ages and I highly recommend it.
Well done to all involved and the very best of luck with the run which starts on Wednesday 13th May and runs nightly until Saturday 23rd May (no performance Sunday 17th)
Tickets are £10 for Adults and £5 for under 18s and are available at the Box Office on Victoria Road on 01507 600350, open 10am - 1pm Monday to Saturday.