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Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre The King and I

By • Jun 26th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
The King and I
Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre
CCBC-Essex, Baltimore, MD
Through July 1st
2:30 with intermission
$20/$18 Seniors
Reviewed June 23rd, 2012

There was a frightening moment during the overture, when the unsteady light shaped like a boat made a very shaky and cheesy journey across the large drop of a world map. If this moment was to set the tone for the whole production, then we were in trouble. Luckily, the moment passed, and the curtain rose for Cockpit in Court’s The King and I, and the audience was transported to a boat docking in Siam and the beginning of a mostly delightful production.

On that boat, we found newly widowed Anna (Nancy Parrish Assendorf) and her young son, Louis (Julian Baron) on their way to live in Siam, where she would work as the school teacher in the royal palace. In Anna, we found a perfectly polished leading lady. Assendorf had unending charm. She was fun and playful in “Getting to Know You.” She also had incredible strength, first glimpsed in “I Whistle A Happy Tune.” She showed both pain and joy in remembering her lost husband in “Hello, Young Lovers.” She brilliantly displayed conflicting emotions in “Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?” Her performance was a spot-on journey from the moment she walked off the boat to the last, bittersweet moments in the King’s chambers. Her vocals were equally as ideal, and it was a delight each time that she sang.

Arriving in Siam, Anna first meets The Kralahome, played with excellent restraint by Jim Knost. She then meets her new boss, The King (James Handakas). Handakas seems to be miscast in the role of the King. He lacks neither the physical or emotional power, strength, and charisma required for the role. Instead, he plays the role in a way to try and play up the laughter. Unfortunately, many of The King’s lines are actually funny because of the seriousness with which they are delivered by him. With Handakas in the role, this does not happen. Handakas has a decent voice, but this is not really a heavy singing role nor is his voice so amazing to understand the casting decision. He misses the boat entirely on this one. His stance in wrong, constantly sticking his stomach out. His accent is wrong, a mix of very stereotyped bad Asain and a little Hispanic. His delivery is unrealistic and over-exaggerated. With a different King, this production would have been at an entirely different level. Unfortunately, he brings your mind continually back to the shaky, cheesy boat.

Luckily, among the wives and children that Anna comes to teach, there is a ton of talent to be seen. As an ensemble, the group makes for several entertaining scenes and numbers. The wives are especially able to show their ability, with vocals and dance, in “Small House of Uncle Thomas.” Chief among the wives is Lady Thiang (Eileen Keenan Aubele). Aubele demonstrates her vocal power in “Something Wonderful,” but is forced slightly out of her range in “Western People Funny.” Aubele has really heartfelt moments. Although she sometimes seems a little too small on such a big stage in such a big show, her performance is overall good. As her son, Prince Chulalongkorn, Mattias Hanchard makes a big impression and really delivers the heart of the show with poise in the final scene.

At the same time as Anna’s arrival, The King has received Tuptim (Molly Doyle) as a gift from the Prince of Burma. Unfortunately, her heart belongs to Lun Tha (Kevin James Logan). Fortunately, for the audience, Doyle and Logan give performances that are nothing short of stunning. Doyle has a stellar first soprano, and Logan’s tenor gives goosebumps. “We Kiss in A Shadow” is especially haunting and beautiful. Doyle has endless class and composure, then beautifully crumbles in a tragic ending. Logan is ever-optimistic and strong. They are the perfect pair and bring real chemistry and romance to the stage.

The technical aspects of the show are definitely top-notch. The costumes are intricate and gorgeous. Anna has one beautiful dress after another. The European dresses fashioned from the Asian materials are especially nice. The costumes during “Small House of Uncle Thomas” are simply breathtaking. The set is beautiful and sets each scene beautifully. The lighting, after the initial light-boat fiasco is seamless in transitions. The gorgeous cyc at the back of the stage is almost always visible and well-utilized for setting the tone with lighting.

Overall, there are a million reasons to see The King and I. If only The King had been at the same level of everyone else, it would have been practically flawless. However, even with this major deficit, it still worth it to see the dynamic performances by Assendorf, Doyle, and Logan.

Cast

  • Captain Orton: J. R. Lyston
  • Louis Leonowens: Julian Baron
  • Anna Leonowens: Nancy Parrish Assendorf
  • The Kralahome: Jim Knost
  • The King: James Handakas
  • Interpreter/Phra Alack: Bill Pheil
  • Lun Tha: Kevin James Logan
  • Tuptim: Molly Doyle
  • Lady Thiang: Eileen Keenan Aubele
  • Prince Chulalongkorn: Mattias Hanchard
  • Princess Ying Yaowalak: Maia Vong
  • Sir Edward Ramsey: Darren McDonnell
  • “Small House of Uncle Thomas”
    • Eliza: Polly Hurlburt
    • Uncle Thomas: Zoe Feldman
    • Eva: Monica Fafaul
    • Topsy: Amy Greco
    • Simon of Legree: Lauren Appel
    • Angel/George: Priscilla Simmont
    • Royal Dancers: Kara and Katie Procell
  • The Royal Princes and Princesses: Olivia Aubele, Gracie Aubele, Andrew J. Boeren, Angela-Marie J. Boeren, Madison Cote, William Macsherry, Naomi Naka, Alana Parker, Layla Sartipy, Katherine Shock, Elizabeth Volpe, Grace Volpe, Maia Vong
  • The Royal Wives: Ruth Hirsch, Claire Iverson, Emily Morgan, Amy Greco, Dana Romeo
  • Priests: Bill Pheil, Matthew Reeds, Josh Schoff

Production Team

  • Director/Choreographer: Todd Pearthree
  • Musical Director: Glenette Rohner Shumacker
  • Children’s Musical Director: Alyson Moore Shirk
  • Orchestra Manager: Tim Viets
  • Stage Manager: Meg Hughes
  • Technical Director: G. Maurice “Moe” Conn
  • Sound Designer/Operator: Terry Edwards
  • Costumes: A. T. Jones
  • Costume Assistant: Eva Grove
  • Lighting Designer: Doug Nelson
  • Light Board Operator: Jeremy Griffith
  • Lighting Crew: Joe Sigai, Deanna Gilmore
  • Spotlight Operator: Sarah Senior
  • Set Designer: Ryan Haase
  • Scenic Artist: Ryan Haase
  • Construction Crew: Joe Sigai, Matt Norton, Sarah Senior, Deanna Gilmore, Zack Lukowski, Marc Smith, Nathan Davis, Andrew Wilkin, Nicole Chaney
  • Deck Chief: Nicolle Walker
  • Running Crew: Nathan Davis, Calvin Grove, Tony Steiner, Carol Braly

Orchestra

  • Conductor: Glenette Rohner Shumacker
  • Keyboard/Rehearsal Pianist: Chris Rose
  • Woodwinds: Richard Spittel, Laura Weatherington
  • Trumpet: Leonard Maxey
  • Bass: Robert DeLisle
  • French Horn: Amanda Collins
  • Percussion: Andrew Bilbrey, Bill Watson, Lisa Wood

Disclaimer: Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre 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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