I grew up with the best of Broadway – The Sound of Music, West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera and countless others have all been etched into my mind since childhood.
As such, it pains me to admit this, but I had never seen The King and I.
However, my lack of prior exposure allowed me to view the ACU production with fresh eyes and no preexisting biases. Now that I’ve seen it, I have no reservations in saying that The King and I is one of the best homecoming productions ACU has put on in years.
From the opening notes of the Overture, I could tell it was going to be a great performance. The Orchestra immediately put its best foot forward, and I was impressed by the professional quality of sound maintained throughout the admittedly long performance.
As for the cast, every performer seemed to be giving it their all – the highlight being Ashley Parizek in her spectacular role as Anna. The rest of the cast were certainly not without their moments of glory as well. I was particularly impressed by Amanda Jarufe as Tuptim, whose crystal-clear voice very nearly stole the show more than once. Peter Hargrave was both imposing and endearing as the King, while Jon Schleyer also gave a great performance as the King’s eldest son.
Everything else about the play was executed with the same level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that we’ve come to expect from the ACU theater department – the sets were immaculately constructed, the costumes were vibrant and the various supporting cast members and vocalists did an excellent job of setting the atmosphere (although I am still curious as to how they got so many small children to cooperate so well).
While the entire play was very well put together, a personal favorite part of mine was the play-within-the-play based on Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was an impressive performance in itself and a true delight to watch.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if The King and I is remembered as one of the better ACU productions, and I’m excited to see what the theater department plans on tackling next.