Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I is a classic musical, and one that has been performed worldwide since its debut in 1951. Lichfield Operatic Society have embraced the show with both hands, giving it a new lease of life and delivering a professionally polished production that would be sure to make the theatre's patron, Elaine Paige (a former Mrs Anna herself), incredibly proud.
With musical direction from Jack Hopkins the orchestra open with the most wonderful overture, transporting the audience to the decadent and visually striking Kingdom of Siam. Not one penny has been spared on this production, it has been a worthy investment judging by tonight's full house. We are very quickly acquainted with Mrs Anna and Louis Leonowens (played by the delightful Lewis McLaren) who are greeted to shore by the frank and physically impressive Kralaholme (played by Fidel Lloyd). It is clear that Lichfield Operatic Society members are passionate about theatre and serious about their craft as incredibly capable singers and gifted performers grace the stage in abundance; surely all the talent in Lichfield was at The Garrick.
The leads deserve a special mention. Both superbly cast and absorbed by their roles they prove themselves performers of high calibre who would not be out of place on a West End stage. Jordan Adams successfully portrays the King of Siam, brutal but likeable, with a charming self-righteousness. Dawn Welch takes on the independent and dignified Mrs Anna, bringing warmth and perfect poise to the role. The King and Mrs Anna's connection is playful and endearing, both proud and each intrigued by the other, there is a genuine spark to their relationship. All tensions are released during Shall We Dance, full of energy it serves as the highpoint of the show before Mrs Anna exposes the King's conscience, wounding his pride.
Lavish sets and stunning costumes bring the production to life. Lighting is well designed and used and assists beautifully in setting the mood of each scene. Sound quality is excellent and the large stage is used to its full potential thanks to the direction of Julie Mallaband and choreography of Jess Lambert. Dances are alert and lively, oriental gestures and mannerisms are well executed, and voices are well trained. The show is smooth and engaging, a feast for the eyes and a joy to the ears, and a credit to Lichfield Operatic Society.
Tickets are now very limited, so make sure to book as soon as you can. For more information and to get your tickets click here or call Lichfield Garrick box office on 01543 412 121.
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