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The Community of Hungerford Theatre Company - The King and I

18th to 21st February 2009.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Full of Eastern promise

Huge cast of adults and children gives audience every reason to smile

The Community of Hungerford Theatre Company: The King and I, at John O'Gaunt Community Technology College, from Thursday, February 11 to Saturday, February 21

Based on Margaret London's novel Anna and the King of Siam, Rodgers and Hammerstein's creation of The King and I offers their wonderful trademark music and amusing script.

Hungerford Town presented a warm, colourful and lively production of this classic musical.

It cannot be an easy task for director David Clayton to command a huge cast of adults and children in confined acting areas. The extensive scene changes did at times look rather clumsy, but despite this, the slick pace and injection of life achieved a feelgood evening.

The director's hard work with the cast was more than repaid and they really looked like they were enjoying the show as much as the receptive audience.

The small orchestra, led by musical director Helen Down, played sensitively, giving a balanced sound for the size of venue. Perhaps some vigour was missed in places, but it worked nicely with the well-rehearsed cast.

Rob Talbot, playing the king, gave a strong, stern, performance that worked well. Although lacking the slightly softer side of his character, a good relationship was realised with Anna, played by Julie Gower. Julie's performance was excellent, capturing a great blend of English stubbornness and sensitive emotion.

Smaller roles, too, really shone; Helen Bonner, playing Lady Thiang, maintained a fantastic character, as did the young Alex Harding, playing Prince Chululongkorn.

Sam Waddell sang delightfully as Tuptim, although the relationship with Lun Tha, played by James Olney, did lack intimacy.

The king's wives and children were animated and created a good picture. This was more than complemented by an array of stunning costumes. Unfortunately, the make-up was not of the same standard, achieving a dirty look rather than an eastern one.

Tara Burden did accomplish the eastern appearance with her fabulous choreography by well-drilled dancers who looked great and gave a disciplined performance.

The choreographer and director worked well together creating a fantastic ballet sequence, executed brilliantly by all involved.

Rodgers and Hammerstein productions usually leave me humming a great melody. However, on this evening Hungerford community theatre gave the audience every reason to leave singing and with a smile on their face.

Thoroughly enjoyable.