As Lady Thiang sang the moving “Something Wonderful” at the end of the first act of Roger and Hammerstein’s classic musical, “The King and I” on the stage of Warwick’s Ocean State Theatre, all I could think was how we now have something wonderful right here in our area.
Like the Park Theatre in Cranston, OSTC struggled at first to find its audiences and, like the Park, it has succeeded in bringing top quality entertainment and large audiences to our area. Ocean State’s closing production of their inaugural season is truly something wonderful.
How director Amiee Turner assembled an amazing cast of over 40 actors or all ages and backgrounds and molded them into a cohesive unit in such a short time is not only something wonderful, it is a miracle.
Turner started by recruiting Christopher Swan to play the king. Swan played the lawyer in OSTC’s last production of “Race” and also played Andre in their Theatre-by-the-Sea production of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and Hysterium in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” The man can play any role and make it his own, and he has. And hopefully he’ll stick around Warwick and do more.
Alison Mahoney was Sister Margaretta in “The Sound of Music” last summer in Matunuck and now plays the English schoolteacher who teaches the children, and the king, a few things. She brings a comfortable stage presence and beautiful voice to the musical.
Add two Korean actresses, Hyemi Kim and Shwna Haeji Shin, and their classically trained voices to the mix, and you have an all-star cast, joined by equity and non-equity actors, including a lovely group of local children who all make this a theatrical treat not to be missed.
You know the story of the stubborn king who thinks the world revolves around his beloved Siam, rules with an iron fist, and is taught the true lessons of life by an equally stubborn English schoolteacher. The songs are all so memorable and with the incredible voices to bring them alive provide for a wonderful evening (or afternoon) of entertainment. We saw the musical Saturday afternoon and were delighted to see so many families in the audience.
Credit must also be given to music director John Jay Espino, who makes his eight musicians sound like a full-blown orchestra; Bert Scott, who has created an exquisite set; and veteran David Costa-Cabral for his magnificent costumes.
I must admit reluctance to seeing “The King and I,” which I first saw back in the ’50s, yet one more time. This production brought back many memories and reminded me of a time when you knew the words to every song in the musical. Brava and Bravo to Turner and her managing producer, Joel Kipper, for bringing something wonderful to Warwick.
“The King and I” continues through May 19 at Ocean State Theatre Company, 1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick. Tickets range from $39-$54. Call 921-6800 for reservations.