Review: Talented young students bring classic musical to life with stunning performances (The King and I at Pendle Hippodrome, Colne)
I'm not ashamed to say I had tears of joy in my eyes as I watched Basics Theatre School take to the stage for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
It was impossible not to be moved as the orchestra began to play and the cast of 50 gifted students brought the classic musical 'The King and I' to life at the Hippodrome Theatre in Colne.
It was good to be back in a theatre and I'm certain all the cast and crew felt the same.
Boy, we have some talented young people in Burnley and to think all the cast are aged just 18 and under is just mind blowing.
'The King and I’ is about a British governess, a Thai king and a story of forbidden love. It’s probably best known through the 1956 Oscar winning film starring Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr.
The musical tells the tale of strong and powerful individuals finding their way in a time of marked and unprecedented change.
It’s the third time in Basics’ 34 year history that they have presented the musical but the current climate and the Black Lives Matter movement has influenced the way in which the story is being presented.
Director Philip Hindle has pullled off a tour de force with some magnificent performances. Central to the story are tutor Anna Leonowens played with elegance and style by Olivia Webster. She captures perfectly the essence of 'Mrs Anna' who is a typical English lady with a fiery spirit who fights for her belief that women are equal to men on all levels. And what a fabulous voice and stage presence Miss Webster has.
Morgan Stephenson made the part of the the King entirely his own and the audience could clearly see that underneath the stern exterior there was a man with a big heart, keen to do the 'right' thing even if it went against everything in life he knows.
Together, Olivia and Morgan played out the love story that could never be between two people who are worlds apart.
Star crossed lovers Tuptim and Lun Tha were beautifully played by Grace Gildert and Felix Snowden. At just 16 and 13 respectively, the duo were totally convincing with heartfelt performances from both.
Tilly Clapham lit up the stage as Lady Thiang, the king's first wife, and what a powerful and mesmerising singer she is. I could have listened to her all evening.
Packed full of majestic costumes, music and humour and well-loved songs including ‘Shall We Dance?’ ‘Hello, Young Lovers’, ‘Getting To Know You’ and the classic British stiff upper lip in cheery musical form ‘I Whistle A Happy Tune'you could hear a pin drop in the theatre in the final scenes (I won't give the ending away for those who may not know the production)
Congratulations once again to Basics principal Andy Cooke and his magnificent team for another show that would not look out of place on the professional stage.
The show runs tonight and tomorrow and I would highly recommend you book a seat, you won't be disappointed.
Tickets start at £12 and can be bought online at basicsjuniortheatre.co.uk
The rest of the cast includes: Luke Holmes (The Kralahome) Theo Edmondson (Captain Orton) Owen Bradley (Sir Edward Ramsey) Luke Esden (The interpreter) Isaac Greenhalgh and Henry Shepherd (Louis, Anna's son) Max Brown and Logan Brown (Prince Chulaongktorn) Molly Brown and Jorgie Thomson( Princess Ying Yaowalak). Royal children (Team Rodgers) Max Brown, Isaac Greenhalgh, Isobel Lawson, Alice Greenhalgh, Matilda Noonan, Frankie Bradshaw, Emily Birkett, Darcy Palmer, Sofia Bovingdon, Molly Brown, Lucy Arrowsmith, Eloise Black, Lucas Birkett, Mollie Brelsford, Emily Mitchell. (Team Hammerstein) Logan Brown, Henry Shepherd, Thea Sturgeon, Harper Sturgeon, Brooklyn Thompson, Trixie Forrest, Jorgie Thomson, Meghan Burgoyne, Jasmine Majid, Willow Bulcock-Dutton, Phoebe Dickinson, Ava Rhodes-Flannagan, Claire Swale and Summer Hancock.