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For an unassuming venue like Rockdale Town Hall with its red brick facade, this latest production of Rodger & Hammerstein's 'The King and I' is a Broadway-worthy performance. The show has been put together by the Rockdale Musical Society, directed by Cathy Boyle and choreographed by Keely Soulsby.
The Palace in The King and I. Image by Chloe Snaith.
From the opening gong, it's clear that this rendition is no small-scale performance. The 17 piece orchestra transports us to 1860's Siam with its opening overture. The set pieces are simple but easily give a sense of place.
In past musicals I've seen there has often been one clear star of the show, but with 'The King and I', the high calibre casting means there are stand-out performances in every scene.
The King and I is an intriguing story of cultural differences. Widowed English schoolteacher Anna, takes a job teaching the many offspring (77 children born from 11 wives) of the King of Siam. The King is seen by the West as a barbarian and it becomes Anna's role to advise him on best practice to appear otherwise. It is their unusual relationship full of conflict that ultimately leads to the personal growth of the King and positive change for the people of Siam.
Overall it's a lighthearted story and the King's overuse of his newfound phrase 'etcetera' never stopped being funny throughout.
The palace scenes used a combination of digital print and Buddha statues on stage that gave a realistic 3D effect of the King's Royal Palace in Bangkok.
The costumes (over two hundred, according to the program) were full of all the glitz, gold and glitter befitting a royal wardrobe with the King seemingly changing costume every scene. The children really lit up the stage with their bright and colourful sarongs and the smallest children commanded the stage with their cute and adorable antics.
Scene from The King and I at Rockdale Town Hall. Image by Chloe Snaith.
The King - Stephen Halstead
Anna Leonowens - Charmaine Gibbs
Lady Thiang - Tisha Kelemen
Louis - Max Fernandez
TupTim - Natalie Rose Cassaniti
Directed by Cathy Boyle
Musical Director Ian Buchanan
Choreography by Kelly Soulsby
Key cast of The King and I showing at Rockdale Town Hall.
Tickets can be purchased online or at the ticket office and seating is pre-allocated. Evening show starts at 8pm sharp, intermission is from 9:30pm-10pm and the show finishes at 11pm.
There is a bar selling beer & wine from $6 and soft drinks from $3 with snacks like chocolate and chips from $2. Programs are available for $7.
On-street parking is free (clearway until 7pm) but is limited. Rockdale train station is approximately a 5 minute walk.