Duchesne High School’s performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical “The King and I,” is sure to carry the audience through a myriad of emotions as the classic tale, based on historical events, unfolds. A king, a schoolteacher, a pair of forbidden lovers, and, of course, the royal princes and princesses of Siam are all brought together in an exciting, heartwarming, and entertaining show!

Beginning on the shores of Bangkok, the musical takes place in nineteenth century Siam (presently known as Thailand). Caring and compassionate, yet strong-willed English schoolteacher Anna Leonowens and her young son Louis travel to Siam at the request of King Mongkut to educate his children in Western culture. 

After getting off the ship, the widowed schoolteacher encounters the Kralahome, who takes her to the palace, where she meets the King, the head wife Lady Thiang, Tuptim (a Burmese girl given as a gift to the King), and the King’s many wives and children.

Anna loves getting to know the children and, while the king may seem rather stern at first, she soon discovers he is kind and loving as well. Torn between tradition and progression, the King endeavors to lead his kingdom with strength as political problems arise.

Meanwhile, Tuptim is protecting a dangerous secret. She is in love with a Burmese man named Lun Tha who delivered her to Siam, and because the law forbids them being together, the two must meet secretly outside of the palace.

Come see everything tie together! The play runs November 17, 18, 20, and 21. DHS has an amazing cast of 22 high school students, 10 junior high students, and 20 children, totaling in 52 cast members overall, along with a great tech crew: Austin Rowser, Hunter Guest, Russten Young, and Austin Betts.

The role of the King is played by Cole Swasey. Starring alongside him is Brytan Hagerman as Anna. Alaina Denney plays Lady Thiang, Dakota Tegan plays the Kralahome, Rebecka Denney plays Tuptim, Britton Rowley plays Lun Tha, Joseph Patrick doubles as Captain Orton and Sir Edward, Noah Spotten plays the crown prince Chulalongkorn, and Jackson Allred plays Louis Leonowens.

The directors and cast are very excited to put on this show! Merrilli McKee, who has directed and assisted with the fall musicals at DHS for 17 years, told me, “One of the greatest thrills in theater for me is creating something from nothing. Gathering people, ideas, resources, energy, and momentum from so many people to literally birth something extraordinary is an amazing and fulfilling process for me. And helping students surprise themselves and their peers by doing things they never thought they could do – well, that is the icing on the cake! We as creators and performers are never the same again!” 

Cole Swasey has been in the plays since his freshman year, and he definitely makes a huge impact on the audience through his performance. Swasey says, “Theater to me is giving the audience something greater than a good show. It gives both actor and audienc the opportunity to experience something wonderful that they can use in their lives.”

Tickets for “The King and I” will be on sale at the door on performance nights, $8 for adults and $6 for children ages 11 years and younger. The show starts at 7 p.m. but there will be an awesome Preshow at 6:30 each evening!

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