Homecoming is bringing more than just a football game for the Wildcats; it also heralds another ACU tradition, the Homecoming musical.
This year’s Homecoming musical is The King and I, a story based on Margaret Landon’s 1944 novel, Anna and the King of Siam. The story draws from the true memoirs of Anna Leonowens in the 1800s. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the music for The King and I. Students have worked on the set and rehearsed for the musical since the first day of school in late August. They will perform three shows this weekend at the Abilene Civic Center downtown.
Every year, the Department of Theatre goes through a process to choose which plays will they will produce the coming year.
“We wanted to do something different from the other years,” said assistant professor, Kari Hatfield, who serves as director for The King and I. “We all agreed to go back to a classic, and this is the show everybody kept coming back to.”
For the Homecoming musical, only college students usually are chosen to play roles in the play. However, this musical adds some younger performers in addition to the main, college-aged roles. The musical boasts 22 children from the Abilene community to play small roles throughout the performance.
“We had open auditions for children over the summer and advertised here on campus and all over Abilene,” Hatfield said. “We came up with 22 kids who are enthusiastic.”
Because the musical is derived from real people in a historical place in time, actors underwent research covering the culture of Siam, nowÂ Thailand, to enrich their performance and to bring a more authentic feel to the performance. The cast received help from Thai students and from missions coordinator, Larry Henderson, in order to become more familiar with the culture of the Thai people.
“We did a lot of research because if this is done in a wrong way, it can be offensive to people,” said Seth Womack, junior musical theatre major from Justin. “We wanted to justly represent the people of Siam. We even had some actors learn phrases in Thai, which is not called for in the script, but we wanted to make it authentic for the audience.”
Womack also said he has done more research for his role, Lun Pha, than he has done for any other role he has performed.
Performances of The King and I begin tonight at 8 p.m. at the Abilene Civic Center. The other two performances will be Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Ticket prices and other information can be found by calling 325-674-ARTS.
“Everyone is welcome,” Hatfield said. “Come and support this tradition.”