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Toby’s Dinner Theater The King and I

By • Jan 25th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
The King and I
Toby’s Dinner Theater
Toby’s Dinner Theater, Columbia, MD
Through March 25th
2:45 with one intermission
$48-$53/$34.50 Children
Reviewed January 22nd, 2012

Once again, Toby’s delivers another solid production of a classic musical that brings joy to audiences, young and old. Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s The King and I tells the story of an English widow, Anna Leonowens (Heather Marie Beck) and her young son Louis (T.J. Langston), who travel to Siam in the early 1860s so that Anna can support herself by becoming a schoolteacher for the many children and wives of The King (David Bosley-Reynolds). The result is a sometimes humorous and sometimes deeply troubling clash of the two very different worlds. With lavish costumes, a simple but elegant set, and a strong cast, Toby’s really brings the experience to life.

Beck is charming and affable as Anna with a playful, almost tomboyish quality bursting forth from under her prim British exterior. This spunk allows her to challenge the conventions of Siam, especially the treatment of women, without becoming overbearing or shrewish. Mixed with her beautiful and spirited vocals, the overall effect is delightful. Most remarkable is the incredible chemistry that she and Bosley-Reynolds share in these roles. Their spirited arguments and playful banter both sizzle with the undercurrent of a possible romantic connection. Their “Shall We Dance?” is delightfully whimsical and full of implications. Bosley-Reynolds finds a good balance in playing the side of The King who is bound to his traditions and knows of nothing else, the side of The King who is afraid of looking or, worse yet, actually being weak, and the side of The King who actually has a sense of humor and a curious, intellectual mind. He melds all these pieces together in a way that results in a fully rounded character.

Jeffrey Shankle (Lun Tha) and Julia Lancione (Tuptim) both have flawless voices that definitely capture the sound of old musicals. Their duets are gorgeous, although the two actors just can’t seem to muster the same level of chemistry as is evident between Anna and The King. Lancione gives an otherwise very strong performance in her other scenes, but the connection with Shankle just falls flat. Someone who never falls flat is Crystal Freeman (Lady Thiang). Freeman knows how to make characters, even ones that people might not normally identify with, raw and real. Her powerhouse vocals are mingled with true, incredible depth of emotion in her performance of “Something Wonderful.”

A strong supporting performance also comes from Alan Hoffman (The Kralhome). He manages to bring real depth and a sense of back story to a relatively underdeveloped character. His love for his King and his country is powerfully displayed in subtle undertones. The rest of the supporting and ensemble roles are meted out to an equally talented group of adults and youngsters. All the performances were polished, and the energy was high.

The one section of the production that truly transcended to a moment of brilliance was “The Small House of Uncle Thomas” Ballet sequence. Light design (Coleen M. Foley), Costumes (Florence Arnold), Choreography (Tina DeSimone), Musical Direction (Ross Scott Rawlings), and the cast all came together under the helm of Director Shawn Kettering to make for a visually stunning and emotionally provoking experience. The one warning is that this section may also be frightening for some younger audiences. There are horrifying dog masks that are worn under red lighting with terrifying choreography. It is beautiful in the intensity of the visual display. Lancione gets a chance to shine in her narration, and along with the chorus (Crystal Freeman, Katie Heidbreder, and Beth Rayca) provide a haunting vocal backdrop. Tegan Williams (Eliza) gets to shine in her dance feature, and Kylie Cooley (Topsy) gets to steal a few moments as well.

Toby’s The King and I is definitely worth seeing, if, for nothing else, the ballet alone. Of course, the ballet is not alone, and there are many other great moments and strong performances that carry this show from beginning to end.

Photo Gallery

kids of K&I Anna & child
Julia & Jeff kissing wife 2kids
lighting pic shall we dance

Photos by Chris Christiansen

Cast

  • Captain Orton: Charlie Abel
  • Louis Leonowens: Holden Brettell or T.J. Langston*
  • Anna Leonowens: Heather Marie Beck
  • The Interpreter: Mikey Cafarelli
  • The Kralhome: Alan Hoffman
  • The King: David Bosley-Reynolds
  • Lun Tha: Jeffrey Shankle
  • Tuptim: Julia Lancione
  • Lady Thiang: Crystal Freeman
  • Prince Chulalongkorn: Palmer Foran or John Morrison*
  • Princess Ying Yaowalak: Anna Kim, Rachel Sabenorio, or Lily Ulman
  • Sir Edward Ramsey: Charlie Abel
  • The King’s Wives: Katie Heidbreder, Amanda Kaplan, Elizabeth Rayca, Tegan Williams
  • The King’s Guards: Charlie Abel, Mikey Cafarelli, Matthew Greenfield, Chris Rudy
  • The Royal Princesses: Kylie Cooley, Erisu Jo, Cristen Hall or Adalia Jimenez, Lily Discepolo or Nabilah Kabir, Maddie Ulman or Madelyn Schloss, Sadie Herman or Natalya Jimenez
  • “The Small House of Uncle Thomas” Ballet
  • Narrator: Julia Lancione
  • Chorus: Crystal Freeman, Katie Heidbreder, Beth Rayca
  • Uncle Thomas: Amanda Kaplan
  • Little Eva: Lily Discepolo or Nabilah Kabir
  • Topsy: Kylie Cooley
  • Eliza: Tegan Williams
  • Simon of Lagree: Charlie Abel
  • Rain, Mountain, Slaves, Dogs, River, Snow, Sun: Mikey Carafelli, Kylie Cooley, Palmer Foran/John Morrison, Cristen Hall/Adalia Jimenez, Matthew Greenfield, Alan Hoffman, Erisu Jo, Amanda Kaplan, Chris Rusy, Madelyn Schloss/Maddie Ulman, Jeffrey Shankle
  • Swings: Antonio Beverly, Arielle Gordon, Jenna Hirsch
  • Understudies: Elizabeth Rayca (Anna), Alan Hoffman (King), Katie Heidbreder (Tuptim/Lady Thiang), Matthew Greenfield (Capt. Orton/Sir Edward/Krahlahome), Chris Rudy (Lun Tha)

Production Staff

  • Director: Shawn Kettering
  • Musical Director: Ross Scott Rawlings
  • Choreographer: Tina DeSimone
  • Set Designer: David A, Hopkins
  • Costume Designer: Florence Arnold
  • Lighting Designer: Coleen M. Foley
  • Sound Designer: Drew Dedrick
  • Production Manager: Vickie S. Johnson
  • Production Stage Manager: Kate Wackerle
  • Stage Managers: Drew Dedrick, Kate Wackerle
  • Technical Director: Jimmy Engelkemier
  • Master Carpenter: David A. Hopkins
  • Set Construction: Corey Brown, Jimmy Engelkemier, David A. Hopkins, Sarah Splaine, Russell Sunday
  • Properties & Set Design: Amy Kaplan
  • Light Board Operators: Coleen M. Foley, Erin MacDonald
  • Sound Operators: Drew Dedrick, Jimmy Engelkemier
  • Stage Crew: Erin MacDonald, Jason Britt, Laura Blasi

Orchestra

  • Conductor/Keys I: Ross Scott Rawlings or Douglas Lawler
  • Keyboard II: Ann Prizzi or Ed Myers
  • Reeds/Woodwinds: Charlene McDaniel, Steve Haaser, or Stacey Antoine
  • Trumpet: Tony Neenan
  • Trombone: Jay Ellis, Griz Gifford, or Dan Pendley
  • Percussion: Jack Loercher or Aaron Holmes

Disclaimer: Toby’s Dinner Theater provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musicals for use in church.

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