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THEATER REVIEW - The King and I

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU)  There are two things I'm certain of after Saturday night's performance of Wausau Community Theater's The King and I: First, Kate Kierzkowski is a wonderful singer. Second, presenting the Rodgers & Hammerstein score with a full orchestra, 30-pieces strong, was an inspired idea. This is how this musical is supposed to be experienced.

Laurels to Kierzkowski. Not only is she in command of the material, she's happy in her work. I sense she's an actress who likes the prime cuts of musical theater. She lovingly delivers songs that were written 60-years ago knowing that they're perfect the way they are. In less talented hands we'd endure pitch changes and over-singing. The wise performer knows these are classics, not ragged tunes that need to be mended. 

Corey Martin is Kierzkowski's co-star. He'd have to soar like an eagle to keep up. Happily, he's a fine king - and a fine foil for Anna to teach and spar with. His role has much less singing; and he appears more comfortable speaking than singing.

We were treated to one of the better casts that Wausau Community Theater has assembled. Jamie Hughes (Lady Thiang), Clint LaRue (Captain Orton) and Rob Rasmussen (Sir Ramsey) were part of a strong supporting cast that included at least a dozen happy smiling children. Madison Nowak, who made a good impression in Hair last season, was a very good Tuptim, and will have leading roles beyond Wausau-East in her future.

Donna Petree's pit orchestra is as big a star as anyone on-stage. They fill the Grand Theater with the sounds of strings and woodwinds, and we're thankful that the synthesizers and electric guitars that have become prevalent in some musicals are taking the night off. We're hearing The King and I as it would sounded in 1951 as Yul Brynner is about to take the stage at the St. James in New York. The effect is wonderful.

Chris Conley
9.7.13

The final performance of The King and I is Sunday at 2pm at the Grand Theater in Wausau.