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Category : Arts & Entertainment

Home/Archive by Category "Arts & Entertainment"
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Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill Jungle Theater

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Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill Jungle Theater – First, I’m a bit embarrassed that this is the first time I’ve been to the Jungle Theater.  What a delightful intimate setting without a single bad seat in the house.  The staff and crew definitely matched the vibe.  I simply adore it, and truly have been missing out.

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill

Thomasina Petrus performance as Billie Holiday was unquestioned and unparalleled.  Her swagger and approach felt so effortless, that it was nothing short of amazing.  From the singing to the immaculate storytelling, Petrus took you on a journey back to that night at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.

As the title, this takes place at a club in Philadelphia in 1959 with Holiday (Petrus) performing one of her very last shows, starting with some shade thrown at actually being back in Philly.  Booze filled tales are told between songs like the sultry “When a Woman Loves a Man” and the ebullient “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” – Petrus nails the dialog and crushes the vocals.

Jazz with a blues appeal to it, this four-person ensemble was all that was needed, and they delivered.  Piano, bass and drums, along with a voice, it was a night out filled with a bittersweet feeling of nostalgia.  Through joy and pain, racism and poverty, addiction and abuse, this was a head bobbin’ history lesson everyone should witness.

It is just shy of a 2-hour performance with a 15-minute intermission, which really wasn’t needed with the show wrapping up just a half hour after it.  Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill runs through June 24th.

Be sure to follow Jungle Theater on Facebook. You can purchase your tickets to Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill here.

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Jersey Boys Orpheum Theatre Review

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Jersey Boys Orpheum Theatre Review – Don’t know much about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons? Well, don’t fret; you will after witnessing this live production of musical history. It is cleverly narrated in detail by the stars of the cast as they tell the story in true finger-snapping fashion. If you have seen the movie, take note that this touring show gets a little more gritty and vulgar with the back story of these rag-to-riches, blue-collar boys as they swoon the ladies, tap the liquor bottles, and drop major f-bombs. It’s fantastic!

Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons

Jersey Boys

I promise you will recognize at least one of the hits, if not more, that include; “Walk Like a Man,” “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Oh What A Night” and “Working My Way Back to You.” Jonny Wexler (Frankie Valli) hit the falsetto notes so well, that I was convinced it was a recording of Frankie Valli himself. I kept watching for lip-syncing, but to my amaze, he was just that good, and basically nailed it.

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Did you know that the actor Joe Pesci, a Jersey boy himself, was the one that introduced Tommy DeVito (played by Corey Greenan) and the rest of the band to Bob Guadio, who in-turn ended up writing most of the hits for The Four Seasons? Yea, this musical taught me all of that. They all pretty much had more ties to the Italian mob than I was aware of as well.  It really makes for an interesting story with some really catching tunes. This is a must see, and you only have until the end of the weekend to go see it. Expectations will be far met.

Jersey Boys

You still have two more days to catch Jersey Boys at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. You can purchase tickets here.

Disney Newsies Broadway Musical

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres Disney’s Newsies Review

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Chanhassen Dinner Theatres Disney’s Newsies Review – EXTRA! EXTRA!  The CDT production of Disney’s Newsies – The Broadway Musical is a triumphant hit!

Disney’s Newsies:

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres turns 50 this year, and what a way to celebrate their anniversary with a historic victory!  Newsies is actually a true story loosely based on events of the 1899 newsboys strike.   The strike lasted thirteen days during that summer in New York. It resulted in a compromise from both the World and Journal to buy back all unsold papers from the newsboys.  In 1992, Walt Disney Pictures made it a movie, and in 2011 Disney Theatrical Productions brought it to the stage.  It’s a fun, fast-paced, well-choreographed musical with some of the most addictive songs a production has to offer.

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Aleks Knezevich Owned This Role!

One of the best attributes when attending CDT are the familiar faces.  Aleks Knezevich is back, in what I believe is his best performance to date.  Playing the lead role of Jack Kelly felt so natural and fitting.  He’s done a few great performances here at CDT, Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, is now his second best performance.  He was also pretty cool as Danny Zuko, in Grease last year.  On opening night, however, it was relevant…he owned this role.

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In this male dominant cast, there were two unfamiliar faces that really stood out, for their talent.  Lucas Wells (Crutchie) was captivating every time he took stage, but more so during his solo performance of “Letter From The Refuge.”  Hoping to chalk him up as a familiar face in the years to come.  Every 0.0002 seconds a star is born, there is proof to that while watching Tanner Zahn Hagen (Les). The adorable goldmine to the newsies because of his young age and instant charm.  This kid was made for the stage and will have you sold, just like the stack of papers on a daily.

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It’s a very minimal set with only a back screen for visuals, and pretty much needs to be with most of the cast being on stage flipping and dancing most of the time.  This production is running all the way through the end of September, so you will have ample time to catch it at least a couple times, and you’ll want to.  So, seize the day and check out this uplifting musical that will have you humming the tunes for days, maybe even weeks after.

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Purchase Your Tickets Here:

You have plenty of time to see Disney’s Newsies at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres! Performing on the main stage from March 2 – September 29, 2018. You can purchase your tickets here.

School of Rock Andrew Lloyd Webber review

School of Rock The Musical Orpheum Theatre

School of Rock The Musical

School of Rock The Musical Orpheum Theatre  –  School of Rock The Musical is an energetic show with a very talented cast that almost leads you to believe that you are not at a Broadway show, but a fantastic concert. Jack Black meets Adam Richman (Man vs.Food) is how I’d describe the lead character Ned Schneebly, well…technically Dewey Finn, played by Rob Colletti. Colletti was a fun guy to watch, and he sure in the hell didn’t mind dropping the F-bomb from time-to-time.

School of Rock The Musical Orpheum Theatre

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Scouring over 22K children back in 2015 before opening night really paid off for this production. That talent they were looking for followed over from year-to-year. It was apparent with the kids they had on stage at the Orpheum opening night in Minneapolis. They literally had the crowd rocking, while playing live musical instruments!

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Andrew Lloyd Webber really knows how to catch ones ear, this on-stage musical version had all of the original songs from the movie, plus fourteen new songs he magically composed, as the wizard he is. The entire score turned out to be just as contagious as Colletti and all of the spunky kids, during every single jam session.

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It’s simple, if you loved the movie, you’ll really enjoy this adaption just as much, if not more.  From the music to the humor, it never let’s up. Got kids? Bring’em, they can relate. I’d say that it’s not the best for anyone under twelve, and probably too loud for anyone over sixty-five. Between those ages, and you’re golden!

School of Rock Andrew Lloyd Webber

School of Rock The Musical runs through March 11th. You can purchase your tickets here.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

The Humans Orpheum

The Humans Orpheum Theatre Review

The Humans Orpheum Theatre

The Humans Orpheum Theatre Review – Dysfunctional families unite and go see this hilarious and astonishing Broadway play before it leaves town. The every day struggle is real for this working-class family that join together in a noisy Manhattan apartment in Chinatown for Thanksgiving.

With an incredible cast of only six, this Tony Award winning best play is sure to captivate just about any modern American family. The Blake family shines in this run-down two-level stage set that lets you see both floors at once, it’s quite brilliant.

The Humans

If you have seen the original “IT” movie, then you may appreciate that Richard Thomas plays the roll as Erik Blake, or dad, whom to me, has a striking resemblance to Jeff Bridges, at least from where I was sitting. Also, another familiar face from a classic football film I’ve always enjoyed, “Best Of Times” is Pamela Reed, whose strength is pronounced as the character of Deirdre Blake, wife to Erik.

The Humans

Add a grandmother (Fiona “Momo” Blake) who suffers from dementia, a recently dumped lesbian daughter (Aimee Blake) and a part-time working daughter (Brigid Blake) with her live-in-boyfriend buried in student loans, and you got a financially strained family getting together over a holiday meal, as we, the audience get to eavesdrop on them.  With stories shared from the past, followed by laughter and tears, it will all seem relatable. The strong performances of the cast deliver this with perfection. It really feels as though they are a family and these are real relationships.

There are a few elements about the supernatural and odd dreams that may leave you a bit confused by the end, and as to how it actually does end, but if you pay attention to the tropes and storylines, you will come to your own conclusion.

You have until February 18th to see The Humans at Orpheum Theatre, order your tickets here.

Disney Aladdin Broadway Musical

Disney Aladdin Orpheum Theatre Review

Disney Aladdin Broadway Musical

Disney Aladdin Orpheum Theatre Review: It was a colorful and magical delight, that’s if you can make it to the end of the first act. So, the hit Broadway musical Aladdin is currently at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Minneapolis and it has its fair mix of boredom and awesomeness.

Aladdin Orpheum

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It starts off slow and takes a while to get up to pace, but once Genie (Anthony Murphy) is formally introduced by that accidental rub, things crank-up more than a few notches. Actually, this show really gets to its feet the moment Aladdin (Adam Jacobs) enters the Cave of Wonders when the set transforms into an all gold spectacular display, filled with comedy and jaw dropping stage magic. This is when you realize that Genie is the star of the show, as he pretty much owned the audience after this fifteen minute genie-us performance of “Friend Like Me.”

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The show dips back in a slumber for a bit before it jubilates into an emotional performance with the stunning Jasmine (Isabelle McCalla) and Aladdin as they perform “A Whole New World” while taking flight on a magic carpet that didn’t seem to have any wires what-so-ever. The set was mesmerizing, with a dazzling display of astrochemistry. With scenic designs by seven-time Tony Award winner Bob Crowley, you know you are going to get a visual orgasm.

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My favorite character from Aladdin has always been Lago, and Reggie De Leon did not disappoint.  This loveable-huggable sidekick of the evil Jafar (Jonathan Weir), was just a joy to watch every time that he took stage.  From the wisecracks to his penguin like waddle, you will appreciate that he isn’t a scarlet macaw for this Broadway performance.

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The comedy is there, the choreography is there, the costumes, bedazzled and sequenced, were there, and the magic…was definitely there! Thus, accounting for 51% of the show, making this a must see. Just know that the other 49% is somewhat lackluster in the two hour ten minute seating (not including the intermission). I probably wouldn’t go see Aladdin for a second time, but I am very appreciative that I did get to experience it.

Showing until October 8th, 2017. You can purchase your tickets here.

Photo Credit: Deen van Meer

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Motown the Musical Orpheum Theatre Review

Motown the Musical

Motown the Musical Orpheum Theatre Review: It was like taking a time machine back to see every live performance on the Motown roster that most of us could only dream about. It was also somewhat like the longest live commercial for; TIME LIFE’s Motown 25 – 6 DVD Deluxe Collector’s Set. Either way, it was a night of nostalgia that had everyone clapping along to the rhythm and grooving in his or her seats on opening night at the historic Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. Even though this legendary tale of an empire dated back as far as 1957 to when Barry Gordy first wrote hit songs for Jackie Wilson, this Broadway medley of Motown’s chart busters (over 60) revolves around, and leads up to the 1983 25th televised anniversary special at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

Motown

Along with discovering the most iconic talent and amazing music, Motown the Musical also touches the hardship the label and the rest of America endured; the Vietnam war, segregation, and the assassination of JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s almost hard to fathom that all of this was accomplished in two-hours, but they managed to do so seamlessly with obvious vocal talent.  Chester Gregory (Berry Gordy) belted out some ear-gasm worthy notes throughout the night, while Allison Semmes (Diana Ross) had the same tiny voice that packed a lot of punch on “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, and as she performed “Reach Out and Touch”, Semmes interacted with the audience just as the real Diana did live at the 1980 concert in California, and brought the audience to handy matrimony (pun intended). Coincidently, Diana Ross was just down the street performing live while this musical was taking place.

Motown

With over sixty songs performed in this fast-paced concert of Motown’s finest, two other performers of the evening really stood out as dead ringers; Jarran Muse (Marvin Gaye) and Raymond Davis Jr. (young Michael Jackson). Both not only had the similarities with their stage presence, but the likeness of their vocals led theater-goers to believe they weren’t only seeing, but also hearing the real icons being portrayed.  Chills definitely will give way the first moment you see the Jackson 5 take the stage. Oh, and when Elijah Ahmad Lewis (Stevie Wonder) takes piano.

Motown CHESTER GREGORY (Berry Gordy) Chester is thrilled and honored to return in the role of Berry Gordy, after portraying him last summer on Broadway in Motown The Musical! Broadway credits include Hairspray, Tarzan, Cry-Baby and Sister Act. He has toured nationally with several shows including Dreamgirls and his one-man show The Eve of Jackie Wilson. Chester has received many awards including the NAACP Theatre Award, and has been presented the key to the city of his hometown of Gary, Indiana and East Chicago. READ MORE ∨ ALLISON SEMMES (Diana Ross) Thrilled to be traveling the nation with this show! Chicago Native. B.M. Opera at UIUC, M.M. from NYU-Steinhardt. Broadway credits: Motown The Musical (Florence Ballard) and The Book of Mormon (Nabalungi u/s, Swing). Other credits include The Color Purple National Tour, Dreamgirls, Bubbling Brown Sugar, The Wiz, Candide. Allison is a recipient of the BroadwayWorld Chicago award for Best Female Lead, and an NAACP Theatre Award nomination for READ MORE ∨ JARRAN MUSE (Marvin Gaye) A native Jersey boy couldn’t be happier living his dream. God is good y’all. Broadway/N.Y.C.: Motown The Musical, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Dreamgirls. Tours: American Idiot, Dreamgirls, Hairspray, 42nd Street. Check jarranmuse.com for the complete resume. “Thank you to Mr. Gordy, Charles and Telsey for this new opportunity to bring Marvin to stage every night; to the Motown legends that lived the story we are telling; to KMR for representing me and to my family and friends for being there. I LOVE READ MORE ∨ DAVID KAVERMAN (Smokey Robinson) is honored to make his Equity and National Tour debuts with Motown! Native of Ohio. Favorite credits (Regional): Sister Act, Dreamgirls, Carousel, Chicago, Godspell, & Disney Cruise Line. Proud graduate of Otterbein University (BM) & the Manhattan School of Music (MM). Eternal thanks to Mr. Gordy & Wojcik|Seay Casting. Shout out to The Mine, his superMama, Manda, and invaluable f

Gordy’s story does fall a bit flat and the dialogue dangles right behind it, and even with the sing-a-long hits being rushed at times and many of them being packed into medleys, it still ends up being a concert of a lifetime to attend, once in a lifetime.

Motown

You can see Motown the Musical at The Orpheum Theatre now through July 16th. Click here to purchase your tickets.

Matilda the Musical FB

Matilda The Musical Orpheum Theatre Review

Matilda the Musical. Roald Dahl, Orpheum Theatre

Matilda The Musical Orpheum Theatre Review – I want to give this production the biggest hug in the world!  Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical was brilliant and just a whole lot of fun; I was thoroughly amazed from beginning to end.  With just enough mature content to keep the attention of the adult theatergoers, but unobtrusive to the kids, this is definitely a musical for the entire family.

Matilda, Orpheum Theatre

All of the children involved in this production were absolutely adorable.  The evening I attended, Matilda was played by Gabrielle Gutierrez; she was breathtaking, and I look forward to seeing her in many more musicals and blockbuster hits to come.  She took that stage so effortlessly and did so with grace, plan on her stealing your heart as well.  By the way, Matilda is the smallest leading lady on Broadway, and Gabrielle reprises her role, which she originated in the First National Tour.

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The set design was fascinating, it was always moving from front to back or side to side with amazing depth and dimension. Rob Howell did a stellar job and should probably win another Tony Award as he did in 2013.  Oh…the swings, you’ll love the swings! Along with the set designs, Paul Kieve added unbelievable illusions that will have you highly impressed and guessing how they accomplished such magic on stage.  The chalkboard still has me scratching my head. Peter Darling was in charge of Choreography, and once the cast performed “School Song” in the first act, it was perceptible they had gotten an expert on board.

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Matilda the Musical, orpheum theatre, Minnesota arts

All of the supporting characters were memorable and had very strong roles.  Miss Trunchbull (Dan Chameroy) was evil and hilarious and could belt out a few good notes.  Who cannot forget the chubby little cake-eater Bruce? Soren Thayne Miller did a marvelous job (for his first National Tour Debut) eating the entire cake and finishing it off, as well as the first act with the rest children for “Bruce.”   He comes out and does another number as if he was a superstar.  There was an incomparable sweetness between the characters that you will get throughout the show and in a way; it kind of overshadowed how awful the parents were to Matilda.

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The brilliance is apparent when Matilda is narrating her tragic story in every other scene throughout the musical, with every line in perfect sync to the actors in the story she discloses to Mrs. Phelps (Keisha T. Fraser).  As Matilda takes front stage, the story was the far back of the stage, portrayed perfectly as a backdrop; as if in a movie or in your imagination while reading a book.  There are so many attributes to mention, and they are so well done in this production, that it would be a spoiler to tell you them all.  There are many must-sees in life, this is one of them, and you only have a short time to do so.

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You still have a chance to see Matilda The Musical at the Orpheum Theatre until April 2nd. Purchase tickets here.

CDT Grease

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres Grease Review

Phatphood Grease

The 1950s hip-thrusting, hand-jiving, Rock ‘n’ Roll pop culture is back, and it isn’t going anywhere for at least the next several months.  Grease has finally returned to the main stage at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres after a 10-year hiatus. This time around, resident Artistic Director Michael Brindisi, who played Kenickie in the second national tour of Grease in 1978 (the same year the film version was released), gives you a more emphasized version of social commentary during this era of teen rebels and coolness. What he did was brilliant, with less attention on only two characters and more focus of high school cliques and the dawn of sexual connotation.  Brindisi has this production made in the shade.

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All the classic hits made popular from the 1978 film were all included along with a few other addicting additions from the original Broadway production like “Those Magic Changes” which is the quirky play on musical notes sung to an up-tempo tune of “Stand By Me.”  Another instant favorite was the comical “Mooning” performed by Evan Tyler Wilson (Roger) and Therese Walth (Jan), who were the perfect duo for this doo-wop inspired song of the human posterior. Now in the second act when Kasano Mwanza took spotlight in the crowd as Teen Angel for “Beauty School Dropout” I got chills, and they were definitely multiplying!  Kasano literally had the voice of an angel and had the entire theatre under his wings.  I could watch this scene over and over, it was that captivating.

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This production felt a bit fast paced, almost rushed into each musical number to fit them all in.  Enjoyable, but I wouldn’t have minded sitting longer to have it spread out.  The entire first act scene changes were the build up to the dance competition in the second act with the voice of Vince Fontaine (Keith Rice) coming across as a radio broadcaster, making for groovy transitions. Goosebumps gave way as Sandy (Caroline Innebichler) twirled an umbrella forefront to the house band as she performed “Hopelessly Devoted To You” ending the scene prior to the productions longest scene of the evening as the dance competition took place at the school gym.  The set decorations were minimal, with the coolest prop being an actual mini-mobile convertible, but it made room for the large dance numbers and the simplicity didn’t take anything away from the heart of the show, it’s characters.

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Keep in mind this is a PG-13 type of production with a few flips of the bird, a couple of SOB’s and other sexual references.  However, it is an experience I believe we all should be entertained by, and lucky for us it has performances every night of the week excluding Mondays with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays all the way thru October 28th, 2017.  Oh, and to satisfy your cravings as well as mine, our favorite Teen Angel flies back on stage to join the entire cast to perform “Grease Is The Word” for the finale that will be sure to bring you to your feet.

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Purchase your ‘Grease’ tickets here.

Photo Credit: Dan Norman, 2017

FB The King and I Orpheum

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I

The King and I Orpheum

If you can guess how many times “et cetera” is said during the 2.5 hour seating of Rodgers & Hammerstien’s The King and I at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, you win…well, nothing.  I have nothing to offer, what you will win is a marvelously witty and charming stage performance that you will want to share with everyone you know.  Kind of like I am doing now, this is definitely a must see and not to make you rush out to go get your tickets or anything, but you only have until March 5th before this ship sets sail out of town.

Laura Michelle Kelly, Baylen Thomas and Graham Montgomery in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy

On opening night, as a huge ship on center stage glides towards the audience, Laura Michelle Kelly (Anna Leonowens) steps to the bow as the audience erupts in cheer.  After all, she is a big deal.  She is praised for her work starring on Broadway in Mary Poppins and most recently Finding Neverland.  She is opposite of Jose Llana (King of Siam), who is also no stranger to the stage or the big screen, I actually remember him from a little role in the movie Hitch.

Laura Michelle Kelly as Anna and the Royal Children of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy

The first act had the whimsical comedy and playful nature as the teacher and the King culturally clashed during the late 1800s of Bangkok as Anna, a British widowed schoolteacher, arrives to shed the knowledge of Western Civilization and the English language to the King’s children.  Laughter will give way as puns intended towards the modern day political madness. The King jokingly mentioned how he wanted to build a fence around Siam to keep the other countries from entering and taking power.

Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy

An unforgettable scene during the first act was with the introduction of the many wives and children of the polygamist King.  This is where charm came into play.  Each of the kids had their own unique stature and playfulness, where as the wives were more subtle.  Except for the elder wife, Lady Thiang (Joan Almedilla), who captivated the audience with “Something Wonderful”, conveying a powerful voice of nothing less than perfection.

Laura Michelle Kelly and Jose Llana in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy

The second act comprised of more serious nature and sadness along with a grasp at love between the King and Anna, giving way to more heartfelt duets such as “Shall We Dance” and also  “I Have Dreamed” performed by Manna Nichols (Tuptim) and Kavin Panmeechao (Lun Tha), whose love affair was hidden in fear of the King.

Jose Llana and Laura Michelle Kelly in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Also in the second act, a performance within a performance was conducted as the character, Tuptim, narrates a book known as Uncle Tom’s Cabin, for the King and his guest, Sir Edward Ramsey, whom was there to be convinced that the King was not a barbarian.  This scene had dancing, singing and simple props that captivated the audience’s attention.

Jose Llana as The King in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Opening night had its minor mishaps, as the spotlight tech had trouble keeping up with the quick movements of the performers.  Also, for a show of this caliber, the choreography could have been a little more precise.

You can purchase tickets for ‘The King and I’ through March 5th at the Orpheum Theatre.