CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
The King and I
Porchlight Music Theatre will present its 2010-2011 season finale, the beloved musical THE KING AND I, previewing April 22 and running through June 5. The Press Opening is on Friday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago. Brianna Borger will star as Anna, reprising the role she played in the production’s Asian Tour, and Wayne Hu will star as the King of Siam, reprising his role most recently from the Allenberry Playhouse in Pennsylvania. Musical Director Eugene Dizon (Jeff Award for Porchlight’s Ragtime) and Allison Hendrix will perform a new two-piano arrangement of the score, with one piano on each side of the stage as a symbolic representation of the meeting of two worlds. THE KING AND I is directed by L. Walter Stearns, who is concluding his successful tenure as Artistic Director of Porchlight Music Theatre after 12 years.
THE KING AND I is Porchlight Music Theatre’s first presentation of a musical by the legendary team of Rodgers and Hammerstein (The Sound of Music, South Pacific, Oklahoma!). Brenda Didier (Porchlight’s Ragtime, Cirque Shanghai, and Cats at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre) provides exotic, Eastern-inspired choreography. Vibrant, historically accurate costumes designed by Bill Morey (Porchlight’s Into the Woods) were custom-made in Thailand specifically for the Porchlight Music Theatre production, which features a sleek set by Ian Zywica and vivid lighting by Mac Vaughey.
THE KING AND I was hailed as “possibly the most beloved work in the Rodgers and Hammerstein canon” by The New York Times, “a classic American musical” by the Los Angeles Times, “First-rate…wonderful” by Variety, and “Perfect…an unforgettable journey,” by The Houston Chronicle. Based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, the original 1951 production ran for 1,246 performances and won five Tony Awards in 1952, including Best Musical. The 1956 film version of THE KING AND I won five Academy Awards. The production has had many successful revivals around the world including a 1996 Broadway production that won five Tony Awards.
Set in Siam in the 1860s, THE KING AND I tells the story of Anna, an adventurous Englishwoman who becomes a tutor to the King’s many children and wives. Feisty and progressive, Anna insists that the traditional King needs to change, but he is torn between clinging to ancient customs and embracing the modern world. Anna and the King begin to accept their cultural differences, eventually learning to understand, respect and love each other. A dazzling musical for all ages, THE KING AND I features a lush score including Shall We Dance?, Hello Young Lovers, I Whistle a Happy Tune, and Getting to Know You.
THE KING AND I features an all-star cast led by Brianna Borger as Anna (the 2007 Asian Tour of The King and I, Porchlight Music Theatre’s Into the Woods, and The Three Musketeers at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre) and Wayne Hu as the King of Siam (Ravinia’s Annie Get Your Gun). The production also stars Kaori Aoshima, Karmann Bajuyo, Christin Boulette, Kara Chandler, Luke Emano, Kate Garassino, Joyce Hshieh, Lydia Hurrelbrink, Jillian Anne Jocson, Erik Kaiko, Dylan M. Lainez, Sadie Mills, Shannon Mulvey, Richard Nava, Benjamin Parkhill, Chip Payos, Lindsey Pearlman, Tatum Pearlman, and Czerina Salud.
About Porchlight Music Theatre
Porchlight Music Theatre is Chicago’s music theatre leader; producing award-winning interpretations of classic musicals and cutting-edge new works on intimate stages. The company is recognized for providing nurture and challenge for stars-in-the-making as well as veteran performers. The company has staged 46 shows including five world premieres, among them, The Teapot Scandals, its first work developed through Off the Porch, Porchlight’s new works program, as well as eight Chicago premieres. An Equity theater since 2004, the company has already received a total of 34 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations resulting in 11 Jeff Awards.
Porchlight Music Theatre is partially supported by generous contributions from the A.R.T League, the Arts Work Fund at the Chicago Community Trust, a City Arts Grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, the Shen Family Foundation, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council (a state agency), the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the National Association of Realtors, Peoples Energy and The Saints.
THE KING AND I runs from April 22 through June 5. The Press Opening is Friday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m. The performances are Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2:30pm and 8pm and Sundays at 2:30pm. Single tickets are $38.00, and discounts for seniors, students and groups are available. Tickets may be purchased through the Stage 773 box office at 773.327.5252 or at www.stage773.com. Group Sales Discounts are available through www.GroupTheaterTix.com or at 866.809.3075.