‘The King and I’ has a contemporary feel

By Rachel Teseneer
Times-News correspondent

   DURHAM — A true classic is coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) in just a few short days. Written by the beloved duo Rodgers and Hammerstein, “The King and I” is set to entertain DPAC audiences June 6-11. “The King and I” has won multiple Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical and has touched audiences with its story since it first opened in 1951.
A recent interview with the music conductor, Gerald Steichen, gave some insight into the show.
Steichen grew up in a musical family and music came as a normal part of life. He found that music was to be central to his career in college when he began accompanying for auditions and shows. In the interview, Steichen mentioned how he loved to tell stories with music and said that he considers his skill set to be “making singers sound great and being their support.” Steichen considers it “a privilege and a joy” to be conducting for “The King and I,” and said “I’m caretaking for a great work of art … (that) touches people still.”
   “The King and I” is set in 1860 in Bangkok and explores the relationship between the King of Siam and the English schoolteacher he has hired to teach his wives and children. Steichen described “The King and I” as a classic.
“It tells a story from real life that had some of the same issues as today. You have a modern leader in a country stuck in an older time. (He has to) be honest with traditions while still moving forward. There’s a love story, a history lesson, it touches on women’s lib and it has great tunes. Even if you’ve never heard the songs, they’ll sound familiar. It’s a sweeping story and the emotions carry you away.”
Though the musical is over 50 years old, Steichen assured that it would appeal to all ages. With the romance, music, costumes and strong personalities of the characters, Steichen said that it “feels contemporary.”
Ticket prices begin at $40. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. June 6-8; 8 p.m. June 9; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. June 10; and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. June 11 at the Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian St., Durham. For more details, go to dpacnc.com or call 919-680-2787.

Rachel Teseneer is a rising sophomore at North Carolina State University and Teens & 20s writer.

 

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