July 10-14, 2013
Music by RICHARD RODGERS
Book and Lyrics by OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II
Based on “Anna and the King of Siam” by Margaret Landon
Original Choreography by Jerome Robbins
KIM HUBER (Anna) couldn’t be happier to return to MTWichita for her 14th show, and to be reunited with Thom Sesma, her very first leading man here in Paint Your Wagon. She has since been blessed to return to MTWichita to star in Good News!, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (opposite her husband, Roger Befeler), Phantom, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, White Christmas, My Fair Lady and Finian’s Rainbow. Kim starred on Broadway as Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (and originated the National Tour), and was an original cast member of Sunset Boulevard (with Glenn Close) and Marie Christine. Her portrayal of Nellie Collins in the Floyd Collins National Tour earned her both Barrymore and Jeff Award nominations. Now a resident of L.A., she has starred in the L.A. premieres of The Last Five Years (Cathy), The Spitfire Grill (Shelby), The Marvelous Wonderettes (Missy, L.A. Drama Critics Award) and Having It All (Lizzie, Ovation Award Nom). Favorite Credits include: The Sound of Music(Maria, 5th Ave Theatre), Chess (Florence, Alliance Theatre), She Loves Me (Amalia, Rubicon Theatre), Show Boat (Magnolia, Ft Worth Symphony and Casa Manana), and she can be heard as the singing voice of “Sleeping Beauty” on Disney Records. Proud Mom to Paige and Adam, she is grateful for all of her beloved teachers; Mom, Dad, Wayne, Mark and Jan.
THOM SESMA (The King) is beyond thrilled to return to MTWichita, where he appeared in Paint Your Wagon (1992) and Gigi (1994). The King and I reunites him with director Mark Madama (Paint Your Wagon and Gigi) and Kim Huber (his leading lady in Paint Your Wagon), as well as with the irreplaceable Wayne Bryan who directed Thom at University High School in San Diego (1973). Other theatre credits include leading roles on Broadway and in national tours: The Times They Are A-Changin’, The Lion King, Search & Destroy, Titanic, Miss Saigon, Chu Chem and others. Off-Broadway credits include NSYF/Public Theatre (Cymbeline, Othello), the Roundabout, Second Stage, The Drama Department, The Mint, NAATCO, Epic Theatre and others. Numerous regional credits including time well spent in plays, musicals and classical theatre at The Old Globe, Yale Rep, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Cincinnati Playhouse, The McCarter, Two Rivers Theatre Co., Arena Stage, Baltimore Center Stage, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, many more. Some TV and Film credits: The Good Wife, Single Ladies, Third Watch, Law & Order, Canterbury’s Law, Over/ Under, Lay The Favorite, Building Girl, and getting shot point-blank in the head in Person of Interest. Immediately after The King and I closes, Thom will be reunited with the role of The Engineer for the first time since 1997 when he begins rehearsals for a new production of Miss Saigon, directed by Eric Schaeffer, at the famed Signature Theatre in Washington DC, Directing credits include Jennifer Camp’s Natural History (Walnut Street Theatre), Life (x) 3 (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis), and Outcry (NAATCO), along with Hair, Lend Me a Tenor, The Drawer Boy, Once in a Lifetime, Waiting for Lefty, Phantom!, Me and My Girl, and others in various regional, university and stock theatres across the country. Best credit yet: Married Penelope Daulton on April 20. Proud member AEA, SAG-AFTRA and SDC. Colossians 3:12-17
TAMI SWARTZ (Lady Thiang) Hailed by The Washington Post as “A lithe soprano…especially clean and well modulated,” Tami Swartz is a singing actor with a varied career in opera, theater, new music and jazz. Opera roles include Madama Butterfly, Gilda, Musetta, Heloise (in Offenbach’s Bluebeard) and Lúthien (in Leithian based on “Beren & Lúthien” from Tolkien’s The Silmarillion by Adam Klein) at Metro Lyric, Harrisburg, Connecticut, Connecticut Grand, Fort Lauderdale, Long Beach opera companies, and Liederkranz Opera Theatre. Theater credits, Off-Broadway and Regional, include: Polly Peachum and Polly in Beggar’s Holiday (Duke Ellington) and The Threepenny Opera, Lady Thiang in The King and I, Cunegonde in Candide and Sharon in Master Class with York Theatre Company, Harrisburg Opera, East Carolina Summer Theatre, Caldwell Theatre Company. New music and jazz performances include concerts with world-class jazz musicians Ray Anderson, Al Grey, Christian McBride, Chris Potter, Valery Ponomarev, Ted Rosenthal & Randy Sandke at Bern Music Festival, Carnegie Hall, and in jazz venues across the U.S. Visit her website at: http://www.tamiswartz.com; follow her on Twitter:@t_swartz. Many thanks to Wayne Bryan for giving her the opportunity to return to MTWichita and reprise the role of Lady Thiang!
ALAN ARIANO (The Kralahome) Music Theatre of Wichita debut! Broadway: M. Butterfly, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Shogun: The Musical, Flower Drum Song (National Tour), and Miss Saigon (from Original Company to Closing Company – 10 years to the day). Off Broadway: Shanghai Moon (opposite Charles Bush) and Pan Asian Rep’s Imelda. World premieres include Geffen Playhouse’s Extraordinary Chambers, Portland Center Stage’s Snow Falling on Cedars, Prospect Theater’s Honor, and Diverse City Theatre’s The Encounter. Regional Theatres include the Kennedy Center, The MUNY, Segerstrom Center, Walnut Street Theatre, Pioneer Theater, The 5th Avenue, TUTS Houston, San Diego CLO and Weston Playhouse. Favorite stage roles include The King (The King and I), Bishop and Grantaire (Les Misérables), Ito (Mame), and Gonzalo (The Tempest). TV credits include “Harry’s Law,” “Leverage,” “Law & Order,” “As the World Turns,” “One Life to Live,” “Parco, P.I.,” “Saturday Night Live,” and guest starring with Isabella Rossellini on HBO’s “Treme” as Annie’s parents. After this production, Mr. Ariano proudly continues to Sacramento Music Circus where he will reprise the role of The Kralahome for the 6th time in his career.
KAY TRINIDAD (Tuptim) is delighted to make her Music Theatre of Wichita debut! Broadway:The Little Mermaid (Aquata/ Original Broadway cast). Off-Broadway: Bare: A Pop Opera (Diane/ Original NY Cast), The Roar of the Greasepaint, Ninja the Musical (Martha/ Kit). Regional Theater/ National Tours: Allegiance (Wendy Mugiishi), Seussical the Musical, Making Tracks, Bye Bye Birdie. Kay performed as Marcy Park on the Stage Stars recording of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. She studied at The Lee Strasberg Institute at NYU’s Tisch. Unending thanks to her family, friends, and teachers, her agents at Harden-Curtis, and also to Wayne Bryan for giving her the opportunity to play this role! An especially big hug and all my love goes to Mom, Dad, Até Chris and Frank, Apey, Big Al and Joan, and my rock and love, Mr. Michael Karns. Thank you to the One above for all the beautiful blessings in my life. Proud member of AEA. www.kaytrinidad.com
KARL JOSEF CO (Lun Tha) is beyond thrilled to make his MTWichita debut in The King and I! He most recently appeared as Cornelius Hackl in Hello, Dolly! Off-Broadway at The Signature Theatre directed by Lee Roy Reams and produced by Baayork Lee. He also understudied and performed the leading role of Sammy Kimura in the new Broadway-bound musical Allegiance in its World Premiere at The Old Globe opposite Lea Salonga and George Takei. Other credits include: Miss Saigon (Fulton Theatre), Suites by Sondheim (Lincoln Center), Costs of Living(Stephen Schwartz/ ASCAP), and The King and I (North Shore). TV: “Bad Advice From My Brother” (Comedy Central), “Hung” (HBO). Praise be to God! Thanks to Mom, Dad, and Mico for their unending love and support! Thanks to Joel, Michael, and Christopher at CGF! Thanks to Wayne and the entire MTWichita family! Proud graduate of the University of Michigan – GO BLUE! Twitter: @KarlJosefCo
EDWARD STURM (Louis) is thrilled to be back at MTWichita for his third summer. Some of his favorite theatre credits include Billy, the duckling, in last year’s production of HONK! at MTWichita, Jojo in MTYP’s Seussical, and Little Jake in The Crown Uptown’s Annie Get Your Gun. He is also very excited to play Michael Banks in Mary Poppins later this summer. Edward will be in the 6th grade at The Independent School this fall, swims year round at the Wichita Swim Club and plays cello and trombone. A big thanks to Wayne, Amy, Mom, Dad & Claire, God, and all of the great people at MTW!
TIMOTHY T.V. CAO (Prince Chulalongkorn) is so excited to be performing the role of Prince Chulalongkorn in MTWichita’s production of The King and I. A few of his favorite roles are Winnie the Pooh (KIDS), and Knight #2 (Once Upon a Mattress) with MTYP, and he enjoyed performing at MTW’s Curtain Up! gala last May. Timothy has been active in dance and Gymnastics for the last 8 years. He is a multiple National Scholarship Winner. Timothy performs throughout Wichita with the Broadway Kids of the Future. Timothy’s dream is to make it to New York. He wants to thank MTWichita for this wonderful opportunity, along with his Mom and Dad for being his Biggest Fans!
LISA GILLESPIE (Eliza / Fan Dancer) is very excited to participate in her first production with MTWichita. Most recently she worked as principal dancer with Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet and Santa Fe Opera in Maometto II and King Roger. Lisa has also performed principal roles with Los Angeles Opera, Seattle Opera, Dallas Opera, Washington National Opera and Houston Grand Opera among others. Operas include The Merry Widow, Aida, Queen of Spades, La Traviata, Turondot, Vanessa, Pearl Fishers, Die Fledermaus and Carmen. Musical theater roles include Louise in Carousel and Dream Laurey in Oklahoma! She received her dance training on scholarship at the North Carolina School of the Arts and San Francisco Ballet. With Ballet Arizona she danced principal and soloist roles and has danced original works with Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet for 12 years in Los Angeles, London and New York.
JASMINE EJAN (Angel / George) is thrilled to make her debut at Musical Theatre of Wichita! Jasmine opened the 2011 national tour of Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan as Tiger Lily. See her fight skills as Ninja in www.fantasywomenbattles.com (and vote for her!). She also dances with Bollywood Step Dance Troupe (My Fair Wedding, Cupcake Wars, Legion of Extraordinary Dancers). Proud credits: Celine Dion’s A New Day and singing with her on “The Tonight Show.” Film/TV: “Oprah,” “World Music Awards,” performing with Elton John. B.A. in dance from UC Irvine, M.Ed from UNLV. Thanks to Peggy, Mark, & Thomas. Love to my family & friends! www.JasmineEjan.com
MARK CLARK (Sir Edward) is happy to be back at MTW after performing the role of the Constable in last year’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. Mark is presently the Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music at Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas. He earned degrees in Music from Friends University and Wichita State University. Mark has taught and directed music for over 30 years to students in public schools, arts academies and colleges.Besides his teaching and directing credits, Mark has been a professional actor in dinner and regional theatre since 1975. Some of his favorite roles include: Johnny Brown in The Unsinkable Molly Brown; Curly in Oklahoma!; Adam Pontipee in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls; TR in Tintypes; and Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music. He has also enjoyed performing in radio and TV commercials. Mark has several choral works published with Shawnee Press and Lorenz Corporation. He and his wife Stacy have three grown children and three grandchildren. Mark is grateful to Wayne Bryan for this opportunity to leave the small town for a while to come “play” in the big city.
TIMOTHY W. ROBU (Capt. Orton) is delighted to be a part of this year’s MTWichita season, as well as many previous ones. Audiences may remember Tim in past roles such as Thenardier inLes Misérables, Bedevere in Spamalot, John Hancock in 1776, Billis in South Pacific, the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, Amos Hart in Chicago, Oscar Shapiro in Curtains, Mr. Feldzeig in The Drowsy Chaperone, Herbie in Gypsy, and Lazar Wolf in Fiddler. Tim also performs at several other venues in the Wichita area, including Mosley Street Melodrama and the Crown Uptown Theatre. Tim served as Technical Director for the Crown Theatre and Artistic Director of the children’s program for over twenty years. He now works as an Exhibit Technician for Exploration Place. When not working at Wichita ‘s fine theatres, Tim has plenty to keep him busy as father to his two daughters, Katie and Francie. An added bonus to this year’s season is the chance to perform with his talented wife Karen in three of the season’s shows. Thanks to Wayne and all the folks in Wichita who produce theatre, perform theatre, and enjoy theatre. They make the Wichita area a great place to work, live, and bring up kids in.
HARRY ROBERT PERRIN (Phra Alack) is beyond excited to return to MTWichita, where he appeared as The Club Owner in Miss Saigon in 2009, with the late Kevin Gray. Harry is a proud Musical Theatre Performance graduate of The University of Oklahoma. In New York, Harry has appeared in several readings/ workshops of new musicals and plays, as well as several concerts, most notably, The 27th Annual Drama League Benefit (w/ Patti LuPone) and Kerrigan+ Lowdermilk’s “You Made This Tour” tri-state concert tour, directed by Daniel Goldstein. He appears as a vocalist on K+L’s new album, “K+L: Live.” Harry has also worked in other performing arts mediums, assisting in the casting of the national tour of South Pacific, directed by Sarna Lapine, and sound engineering for the likes of Gavin DeGraw, Ernie Halter, Polica, and others. Favorite regional/stock credits include: the title role in Pippin, Chip (…Spelling Bee), Charlie & Linus (YAGMCB), Nathan Detroit (Guys and Dolls), Leonato (Much Ado About Nothing), and as an actor with the Houston Grand Opera. Harry currently serves as a Director/Instructor and Technical Director for the Houston Family Arts Center. He is beyond excited to return to NYC, in the Fall of ’14 with his brother, Jackson, who he is blessed to share the stage with in this production. Thanks to Wayne, Nancy, and MTWichita for this wonderful opportunity.
ROBERT ARIZA 2nd MTWichita season. He is a rising senior pursuing a BFA from The University of Michigan. Recent UM credits: Sunday in the Park with George (Mr./Lee Randolph),Spring Awakening (Hanschen), Next Fall (Brandon). Recent awards: Emerging Talent Award from the Lotte Lenya Competition sponsored by the Kurt Weill Foundation, Roger Sturtevant Award in Musical Theatre through Actors’ Equity. Thanks to everyone at MTW, and his family and friends in NY and at UM.
DANIEL BEEMAN debuted here in Les Misérables. Originally from Bellevue, Nebraska, Daniel will be a senior at UMKC in the fall. His favorite performances include Next To Normal (Gabe),The Nutcracker (Ensemble), the World Championships of Irish Dance, the Celtic Irish Dance Festival at Walt Disney World, and many performances with the Omaha Symphony. Many thanks to friends, the Stanek clan, Mom, Dad, Jean, Chris, Bri, and Tricia for their undying support!
DANIEL BEVINS 1st MTW sesaon. Originally from Atlanta, GA, Daniel is a rising junior at Elon University pursuing a BFA in Music Theatre. He has worked professionally at Artpark (Cinderella) and The Muny (Thoroughly Modern Millie and Aladdin!). Past favorites include: Hair, A Man of No Importance, The Wild Party, Into the Woods, and Les Misérables. So much love and gratitude to his outstanding family, friends, teachers, and to Wayne, Nancy, and the entire MTWichita family for making this wonderful opportunity possible!
KATHRYN BOSWELL made her MTWichita debut as Cosette in Les Misérables. She is a recent musical theatre graduate of CCM and some of her favorite recent credits include: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Naomi) at Know Theatre of Cincinnati, [title of show] (Heidi), Chess (Svetlana)Spring Awakening (Wendla) at CCM, Little Women (Amy) and Seussical (Mayzie) at CVC, and The Importance of Being Earnest (Cecily) with Hamilton Theatre. Kathryn is also a voice actress with Radio Disney. Thanks to my family, the Lookers, and to God for these pockets of grace!
JACOB CHANCELLOR 2nd MTW season. Originally from Edmond, OK, he is going into his senior year at The University of Oklahoma! Credits: OU University: On The Town (Chip), …Forum (Protean). Lyric Theatre OKC: Xanadu, 42nd Street, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Broadway Rose (Oregon): The Drowsy Chaperone (George). MTWichita: Spamalot, The Music Man, Finian’s Rainbow, Sunset Boulevard, Xanadu, Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Thanks and love to family and friends for all the love and support.
KIM CORBETT made her MTW debut in Les Misérables. This fall she will begin her senior year as a BFA in musical theatre at Penn State University, where she was most recently seen as Susan in [title of show]. Previous credits also include All Shook Up (Natalie), Bernstein’s Mass (Swing), and Grand Hotel (Raffaela). Love to Mom&Dad.
JORDAN DE LEON (Interpreter) made his MTWichita debut in Les Misérables. Born and raised in Chicago, Jordan is a rising senior musical theatre major at the University of Cincinnati – CCM. CCM credits: Chess, The Threepenny Opera with Robin Guarino, Spring Awakening, Out of This World, The Civil War. Elsewhere: Anything Goes (Luke), Godspell (Lamar), and All Shook Up at West Virginia Public Theatre; Pippin at The Carnegie (Covington, KY). Much love to Mom, Papa, Jared, and all of his teachers, both past and present. For Grandma.
CALEB DICKE 2nd MTW season, having performed last summer in Fiddler on the Roof (Russian),9 to 5, Honk! (Barnacles), Singin’ in the Rain, and Legally Blonde, and in both Spamalot and Les Misérables this year. He will be a senior dance performance major this fall at Oklahoma City University. While at OCU, he has performed in the American Spirit Dance Company’s Home for the Holidays Christmas Show and Spring Show, as well as Legally Blonde (Kiki) and The Wedding Singer (Billy Idol).
ELEANOR FISHMAN is from Pennington, NJ and made her MTWichita debut as Fantine in Les Misérables. She is a rising junior Musical Theatre major at the University of Michigan where she has played Amanda Gronich in The Laramie Project and ensemble in Spring Awakening. Some other favorite roles include Erma in Anything Goes and Maria in The Sound of Music. Thanks to MTW for this wonderful opportunity and to her family both in New Jersey and at UM for their unending love and support.
HANNAH FREEMAN 2nd MTW season. Hannah is a senior musical theatre major at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Favorite CCM credits include Jenny (The Threepenny Opera), Dream Laurey (Oklahoma!) and Fredrika (A Little Night Music). Other credits: Solo Dancer in Oklahoma! with Ashley Brown at the Lyric Opera of Chicago (dir. Gary Griffin). Many thanks to Wayne, Nancy and MTW, and much love to family and DB.
REBECCA GANS (Topsy) is a Wichita native and a dance performance major at Oklahoma City University. Her favorite credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie (Millie), Footloose (Ariel) andThe Pajama Game (Gladys). Performing with MTW created some of Rebecca’s favorite memories as a kid, and she is excited to be a company this summer. Thanks to her family, friends, and The Man up above for supporting her in all her dreams.
CLAIRE GERIG made her MTWichita debut in Les Misérables. A Wichita native, she will be a senior at Wichita State University pursuing a BFA in Music Theatre where she was last seen as Amalia in She Loves Me, directed by Wayne Bryan. While a student at Maize High School, Claire was selected to represent the Jester Awards in the Leading Actress category at the National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York City. Thanks to Wayne and all of MTWichita. Love to Linda, Amy, Pina, Marie, Bret, Mom & Dad.
MICHAEL HARTUNG (King Simon) made his MTW debut with Spamalot. A native of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Michael is a rising senior Musical Theatre major at the University of Michigan. Michael also trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England. Past favorites include The King and I, Thoroughly Modern Millie (The MUNY) Oliver!, Cats (West Virginia Public Theatre) All’s Well That Ends Well, The Last Tempest (RADA), Chicago, Brigadoon, The Full Monty, Crazy for You (U of M). So much love to family and friends. Go Blue!
CATHERINE HELM 2nd MTW season. A rising senior at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music’s Musical Theatre program, Catherine’s favorite roles include: Mae inStreet Scene, Molly in The Threepenny Opera, and Lucinda in Into the Woods. Other favorites include Oklahoma!, Out of this World, Under Construction II, and Into a Lamplit Room. Love and thanks to friends and family, and to Wayne, Nancy, and the MTW family.
DAN HORN 3rd MTWichita season. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma class of 2013. Some of his favorite roles at the University are Ozzie in On The Town, Wickersham Brother #2 in Seussical the Musical, and The Puppet Master in The Adventures of Pinocchio. Thanks to Wayne and Nancy for giving him such an amazing opportunity and his family for their endless love and support.
EMILY KELLY 1st MTW season. She is from Sacramento, California, and will be entering her sophomore year as a BFA Musical Theatre student at Indiana University. Favorite roles include Thea in Spring Awakening (IU Theatre), the Witch in Into the Woods, Mayzie La Bird in Seussical,and Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. Thanks to her family and friends back home and at IU for their endless support, and the entire MTW team.
BROOKE LACY 2nd MTW season. She is an upcoming senior Musical Theatre major at the University of Oklahoma. Favorite credits include: On the Town (Dance Captain/Ensemble),Avenue Q (Mrs. T/ Bad Idea Bear U/S), Seussical (Bird Girl), The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber(Soloist), and OKC Philharmonic’s A Very Merry Pops (Mistletoe). Love and thanks to her wonderful family for their support, to Cary and Julie Danielson for inspiring her, and to Wayne, Nancy, Josh, and all of MTW for this amazing opportunity!
ELLIOTT MATTOX 2nd MTW season. Elliott has performed here in Les Misérables, The Music Man, Finian’s Rainbow, Sunset Boulevard, Xanadu, and Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Other credits include Jack (Into the Woods), Tobias Ragg (Sweeney Todd), Phil D’Armano (The Wild Party) at Oklahoma City University; Hugo Peabody (Bye Bye Birdie) at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. He will be a senior musical theatre major at OCU in the fall. Love and gratitude to Wayne and everyone at MTW, and to his friends and families at OCU and in Kentucky.
EVAN MAYER 2nd MTW season. Originally from Milwaukee, WI, Evan recently graduated from Indiana University with a BFA in Musical Theatre. MTW: Fiddler on the Roof (Motel), Legally Blonde (Kiki), 9 to 5, Honk!, Singin’ in the Rain. Other favorites include Cabaret (Emcee), Little Shop of Horrors (Seymour), and Sweeney Todd (Anthony). While in school he spent two years recording and performing with IU’s Grammy-nominated Singing Hoosiers as a featured soloist, with notable performances in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. Love and thanks to Wayne and Nancy, and to my family and friends for their incredible support.
TREVOR McCHRISTIAN just completed his senior year at Maize High School and will be an incoming freshman at Wichita State University this fall! He is thrilled to be working at MTWichita for his third summer in a row, and was proud to represent the MTW Jester Awards at the 2013 National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York City. Trevor has previously been seen at MTW in Fiddler on the Roof, Singin’ in the Rain, Finian’s Rainbow, andDisney’s The Little Mermaid. He gives many humble thanks to Wayne, Nancy, Josh, Thomas, Doris, and his family for providing him with more opportunities than he can imagine at such a young age.
ALEXANDER H. MILLER made his MTW debut with Les Misérables. From OKC, OK, Alex is a musical theatre major at the University of Michigan in the class of 2016. Thanks to Amy, JBR, Jay, Dr. Bill, and Dr. H. for years of training and continued encouragement. Love to Mom, Dad, and Elle for the unconditional support, and thanks to Wayne, Nancy and MTW. Thank you to the entire UMICH faculty and friends especially Brent Wagner, Linda Goodrich and Catherine Walker Adams. Credits: UMich: Crazy for You; Lyric Theatre OKC: Oliver!, Hairspray. Go Blue!
CAROLYN ANNE MILLER was thrilled to make her MTWichita debut as Eponine in Les Misérables. As an upcoming junior at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, her other favorite credits include Roxie Hart in Chicago, Kim MacAfee in Bye, Bye, Birdie, and Lost Boy (Twin Two) in Peter Pan. A special thanks to MTWichita for this lovely opportunity, and all of my love and thanks to my dear friends and Mom, Dad, Ali, Mock, George, Camille, and Grandma.
CHET NORMENT 2nd season at MTW, where credits include Les Misérables, Legally Blonde(Pforzheimer), Singin’ in the Rain, Honk!, 9 to 5, and Fiddler on the Roof. Regional: Joseph…Dreamcoat (Theatre of the Stars), Hairspray (IQ/Dance Captain, ZACH Theatre), Deborah Cox’s Everybody Dance (The Mirage). University: Crazy for You (Pete/Dance Captain), She Loves Me,Tapped Out, and Dancing in the Blackbox. Film: Right on Sunset (Steve). Chet will be a senior BFA Acting major at Elon University this fall. Love to Wayne, Nancy, the Fam, and Kit!
FAITH NORTHCUTT is honored and thrilled to return to MTWichita this summer! She was recently seen at MTW in Singin’ in the Rain, Fiddler on the Roof, Disney’s The Little Mermaid,Finian’s Rainbow (Diana), Gypsy (Young Louise) and Les Mis (Young Cosette, 2008), and in the Teen Choir. Favorite roles include: Annie in Annie at MTYP, Susan in White Christmas at the Crown, and Nativity Angel in Celebrate 2012 at Signature Theatre. She will be an incoming IB freshman at East High and enjoys dancing, archery and plays the oboe. Love and thanks to Wayne, Nancy, Josh and MTW for this amazing opportunity!
NICHOLAS PALMQUIST 3rd MTWichita season. Nick is a 2013 graduate of Oklahoma City University, with a Bachelor of Performing Arts, Nicholas’ fifteen MTW shows include Spamalot,Les Misérables, Legally Blonde (UPS man Kyle), 9 to 5, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, The Music Man,and of course, Singin’ in the Rain. Nicholas sends thanks to Wayne, Thomas and Nancy for the overwhelming opportunities and support, and love to his friends, his family, and his outrageously beautiful fiancé.
JACKSON PERRIN is honored to debut in his first MTWichita production. He is an upcoming senior at Texas State University. Favorite university credits include Pasko in A Little Princess, Tribe Member in Hair, Max in The Wild Party, and he most recently performed in a reading for Mark Holeman’s new musical Hooray for Iceboy. Jackson would like to thank Wayne and Nancy for this wonderful opportunity, the entire cast and crew, and his family for all their love and support, especially his older brother Harry whom he had the pleasure of sharing this experience with.
BECCA PETERSEN 1st MTW season. She is originally from Carmel, Indiana and will be a senior in the fall studying musical theatre at Brigham Young University. Favorite credits: Thoroughly Modern Millie at The MUNY (Lucille/ensemble), Dreamgirls at The MUNY (Sweetheart/ensemble), Oklahoma! (Laurey), and Beauty and the Beast (Belle). She recently performed in China with the BYU Young Ambassadors, and this fall will play Clara in The Light in the Piazza at BYU. Gratitude to everyone at MTWichita, and a big thank you to her family and friends for their endless support!
SARAH QUINN 4th MTW season. Sarah, a Wichita native, recently completed her freshman year at the University of Oklahoma (BFA Musical Theatre), and made her University Theatre debut in On the Town. Favorite MTW shows include Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Ariel u/s), 9 to 5, and Legally Blonde (Greek Chorus). Thanks to Wayne and the entire MTWichita family, and love to family, friends, and Jeff for their constant love and encouragement. 1 Peter 4:10-11
MADDIE RAZOOK , an incoming freshman musical theatre major at Oklahoma City University, is thrilled to be performing with MTWichita again. Some past credits include Rizzo (Grease), Yonah (Children of Eden), Rona (Spelling Bee), Lucy (Charlie Brown), Little Sally (Urinetown) and Jo (Little Women). Thanks to Wayne, Josh, and Nancy for the opportunity, to all of her wonderful mentors, and to her incredibly supportive family and friends. Most importantly, she would like to thank God for always pointing her in the right direction. ”Every single day, do something that makes your heart sing.”
LYNNETTE VALENCIA REMPEL (Anna’s Servant) is delighted to be back for her fifth season with MTWichita. Audiences may remember Lynnette from seasons past from her performances as Liat in South Pacific, Andrea in Once on This Island, Antonia in Man of La Mancha, and Aysha in Children of Eden. Lynnette is also proud to have served as a soloist at the Papal High Mass at World Youth Day. Lynnette is especially grateful to be able to share the stage as a royal mother with her own real-life princess Kathryn. Special thanks to God for all good gifts, to Wayne and Mark for the opportunity to be back on stage, and to her family, especially Dave and Kathryn. I love you all.
BENJAMIN RIVERA 2nd MTWichita season. He recently finished his junior year at Oklahoma City University as a dance performance major. Some favorite past shows include: 7 Brides for 7 Brothers (Benjamin) and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Simeon). Favorites at MTW include: Legally Blonde (Nikos), Spamalot, Les Misérables, Singin’ in the Rain,and 9 to 5. He would like to thank his friends and family for all their unconditional love. Jeremiah 29:11
SEAN RONAYNE, originally from Lake Zurich, Illinois, is excited to be back for his second season with MTWichita, and loved playing Enjolras in Les Misérables! He just graduated from Elon University with a BFA in Music Theatre, and will be moving to New York in the fall. Favorite roles include Robbie in A Man of No Importance (Elon University), and all five shows last season at MTWichita, including the Production Tenor (signing “Beautiful Girl”) in last season’sSingin’ in the Rain.. Thanks and love to Mom, Dad, Brian, Bridget, and also Wayne, Nancy, and Thomas for the wonderful opportunities and endless support!
RIZA TAKAHASHI (Little Eva) has performed here in Spamalot and Les Misérables. Education: BFA in Musical Theatre at The Hartt School. Recent credits include: MUNY: Little Eva/Fan Dancer (King and I), Ensemble (Thoroughly Modern Millie). Woodstock Playhouse: Connie Wong (A Chorus Line), Crissy (HAIR), Charity (Anything Goes). Love and thanks to my family, friends, and the Hartt family, and also to MTWichita for this amazing opportunity!
ANDY TOFA 1st MTW season. Andy is currently a student at OU’s School of Musical Theatre (2016). OU credits include: School of Dance’s Cinderella and School of Musical Theatre’s On the Town. He is from California, but he currently lives in Saint George, Utah. His nationality is Filipino and Samoan, he enjoys playing sports, and greatly enjoys food from different ethnicities. He is grateful for the love and support of his friends and family. He is excited to be a part of the MTWichita family.
KATIE WESLER 1st MTW season. A senior Musical Theatre major at CCM, Katie received the 2013 Kurt Weill Foundation of Music Emerging Talent Award and the 2013 Roger Sturtevant Award from Actors’ Equity. CCM credits include Parade (Sally Slaton), Chess (The Arbiter’s Assistant), and Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite. Professional roles include Peggy Sawyer in42nd Street (Tent Theatre), Shelby Thorpe in The Spitfire Grill and Maggie Pelletier in Red Herring(Timber Lake Playhouse), and Hunyak in Chicago (Red Mountain Theatre Company). Thanks to Wayne and Nancy, and to her family for their support.
HAYLEY WILHELM (Uncle Thomas) 1st MTW season. Hayley is a dance management major at Oklahoma City University and just completed her junior year. She has been seen in numerous American Spirit Dance Company shows at OCU and in Legally Blonde at OCU. She has also danced in the Mary Kay Cosmetics 2012 International Seminar. Thanks to Wayne, Nancy, and Josh, and to her husband Zachary, Mom, Dad, Hannah, and Grandmommy for their support!
ZACK WILHELM 3rd MTW season. Zack is a part of the 2013 graduating Musical Theatre class at Otterbein University, where credits include Paul in Carnival, Eddie in Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party, and Robert Martin in The Drowsy Chaperone. Thanks to everyone at MTWichita for the amazing opportunity, and endless gratitude to his wife Hayley (whom he has the joy of performing alongside this summer), Nick, Mom, and to the Good Lord for a truly wonderful life!
SUMIRE YU made her MTWichita debut with Les Misérables, and loves being a part of the family this summer! Originally from Tokyo, Japan, Sumire is a junior musical theatre major at Elon University. Elon credits include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Marcy Park) and Hair (Tribe). Thank you to my family at home and at Elon for their endless love and support, as well as Wayne, Nancy, and MTW for this incredible opportunity.
MARK MADAMA (Director) has directed productions on both coasts, and as far away as Ireland, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, and yet he happily celebrates his 25th consecutive MTWichita season, with The King and I being his 41st production as director. Favorite shows here include The Full Monty, 9 to 5, Sunset Boulevard, The Music Man, Curtains, Big River, Aida, Annie Get Your Gun, West Side Story, Oklahoma!, Damn Yankees, Cinderella, How to Succeed…, Funny Girl, Fiddler on the Roof (2001 and 2012), The Pajama Game, Evita, The Music Man, The Sound of Music, State Fair, Meet Me in St. Louis, Guys and Dolls, My Fair Lady, The Secret Garden, Tintypes, Sweet Charity, Gigi, Cabaret, Into the Woods, They’re Playing Our Song, and Good News!, plus his performance as Zach in MTWichita’s first A Chorus Line. Other credits include The Producers, Aida and Cinderella at Kansas City Starlight (where he’ll return this summer to direct Footloose), Hello, Dolly! at the New London Barn Playhouse, and two engagements teaching at Music Theatre Italy near Venice. Mark Madama and Wayne Bryan are the co-authors of the revised version of Good News!, which has received over 300 productions in the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain. Mark is an Associate Professor of Musical Theatre at the University of Michigan, where he has directed Ragtime, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, The Full Monty, Rent, Big River, City of Angels, The Pajama Game, Guys and Dolls, Assassins, Good News!, Nine, Children of Eden, Company and Horton Foote’s 1918.
PEGGY HICKEY (Choreographer) is a frequent collaborator at MTWichita, where her previous shows include The Music Man, Curtains, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, My Fair Lady, Meet Me in St. Louis, State Fair, Annie Get Your Gun, and our 2002 edition of The King and I. Upcoming this fall: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Broadway choreographic debut), The King and I (Paris, Chatalet), Hansel and Gretel (director, Lincoln Center). Other credits: My Fair Lady (New York Philharmonic); Die Fledermaus with Plácido Domingo (PBS Live from The Kennedy Center); Hansel und Gretel (PBS Live From Lincoln Center); Carmen (Seattle Opera); La Boheme (LA Opera); Lucky to Be Me: The Music of Leonard Bernstein (New York City Opera); Lucio Silla (Santa Fe Opera), The Merry Widow, Aida, La Bohème, Falstaff, La Cenerentola, Carmen, and La Traviata (Houston, San Francisco, Chicago Lyric, Dallas, and LA Opera); Petroushka (LA Phil); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Old Globe, San Diego); Gigi (Reprise Theatre Company); A Little Night Music; On the Twentieth Century; Amour; Brigadoon (Goodspeed); Oklahoma! (Paper Mill Playhouse); The Music Man (Geva Theatre); Fiddler on the Roof (Mexico Company); Beauty and the Beast (Alabama Shakespeare Festival); TV/Film: The Brady Bunch Movie, “Heart of Dixie,” “Samantha Who?,” “90210,” “General Hospital,” “Port Charles,” “Days of Our Lives,” “Passions,” and the MTV Video “Beck’s The New Pollution.” www.peggyhickey.com
THOMAS W. DOUGLAS (Musical Director / Conductor) is thrilled to begin his 14th season with his wonderful artistic family at MTWichita, having led 45 productions with this remarkable company. Thomas has done more than 200 musical theatre, opera, orchestral and oratorio productions, including conducting Webber’s Phantom of the Opera in Switzerland. Highlights include Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Bizet’s Carmen Jones, Master Class and Mondo Mangia with the late Jillene Ringle. As the Artistic Director of the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, he is receiving acclaim for adventurous, innovative debuts and premier programs, including Carmina Burana Africana, Messiah in Space, and a concert of standard choral masterpieces with a fusion rock band and string orchestra accompaniment, plus a presentation of Charlie Chaplin shorts with an all Bach soundtrack. On stage he has enjoyed the roles of Caiaphas in Jesus Christ Superstar, Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Amonasro in Aida, and Fats Waller in Ain’t Misbehavin’, both in the U.S. and in Malaysia. Thomas is on the faculty of both the Drama and the Music schools at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, is the proud recipient of the Mary Jane Teall Award, and is the Musical Director of the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra. He is now developing his one man show entitled “Under the Influence” based on his eclectic group of musical experiences.
AMY BAKER (Assistant Choreographer) is thrilled to join Peggy, Mark, Wayne and the MTWichita family again, where she has choreographed Camelot, HONK!, and Gypsy (Mary Jane Teall Award) and was in the Resident Company for five summers. Amy is the Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre/ Choreographer for The School of Performing Arts at Wichita State University where she teaches tap, jazz, theatre dance, and recently directed and choreographed Crazy for You. Her work has also been showcased at the New York Jazz Choreography Project (Alvin Ailey Studios, NYC), Traditions in Tap Showcase (NYC), the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra (FL), and across northern Italy. Amy has enjoyed a professional performing career in NYC and is a proud member of Actor’s Equity. Highlights include playing Phyllis Dale on the First National Broadway Tour of 42nd Street, performing with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and Singin’ in the Rain at the Westchester Broadway Theatre. Amy is proud to have completed her MFA in Choreography from Jacksonville University and her BFA in Musical Theater from WSU. She is extremely passionate about the preservation of original Broadway choreography and mentoring students to help them make a living doing what they love.
XuZHENG HE (Set Designer) is from Canton, China, where he established himself as a professional theatre scenic designer and fine artist. He came to United States in 1987 to attend the University of Arizona, and then worked in the fields of theatre, movie production and display projects for natural museums. Of the several musicals he designed for Music Theatre of Wichita (including Phantom and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), The King and I remains the one of which he is proudest. He currently resides in Arizona where he creates his artwork. As always, XuZheng loves MTWichita, and is very happy to congratulate his dear friends there on another great season!
DAVID NEVILLE (Lighting Designer) is thrilled to begin his 30th season of “Camp MTW.” In addition to many productions at MTWichita, David has designed lighting for North Shore Music Theatre, Theatre Under the Stars, Omaha Symphony, The United States Air Force, Stage One, Ordway Music Theatre, Paper Mill Playhouse, The University of Michigan, Penn State University, Portland Center Stage, North Carolina Theatre, Music Theatre West, Arkansas Rep, Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera, George Street Playhouse, California Music Circus, The 5th Avenue Theatre and Off-Broadway. David’s favorite designs at MTW include Les Misérables, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Cats, Ragtime, Once on this Island, and Jesus Christ Superstar. David also teaches lighting and scenic design at Wichita State University.
ANDY ROUSE (Sound Designer) is here for his fourth season and his first show as a designer. He received his Associate of Liberal Arts from Cowley College in ’09 and continued his studies at WSU. Andy just returned from a children’s theatre national tour with American Family Theatre. He works locally with Event Systems Inc, IATSE #190, and many others. Big thanks to Wayne, David, and the family for their support.
ALENA SELLERS (Wig and Makeup Designer) is very excited to be returning for the fourth season as wig and makeup designer, having been assistant the first year. For her work with MTWichita, Alena is the recipient of a Mary Jane Teall Merit Award for the hair and makeup department. She lives in Wichita and spends most of the year working at Allure Salon. She has been doing hair for fifteen years, has spent six years as an Aveda Color Educator, and is grateful for the opportunity to work with so many talented people. A special thanks to Sandy, Joy and Jocelyn for all your hard work.
SHANNON SMITH (Costume Coordinator) is a Kansas City based costume designer. Last year she made her costume design debut at MTWichita last season with 9 to 5. She is a MFA graduate in costume/ scenic design from Ohio University. She received her BFA in 2008 from Wichita State University in Wichita, KS. In 2011, she completed an internship in New York City, with Martin Pakledinaz on the Broadway revival of Anything Goes. She has worked as the resident costume designer at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre in Kansas City. Her other design credits include costume design for the American Heartland Theatre’s productions of Hound of the Baskervilles, Life Could Be a Dream, and Making God Laugh, Wichita Community Theatre’s productions of Romeo and Juliet, Crimes of the Heart, and Hayfever, and Wichita State Opera’s productions of Corination of Poppea, and Il viaggio a Reims. She has also designed several undergraduate and graduate designs such as Man Equals Man, Wild Party, Loves Labours Lost, and Hair. She has also worked at Music Theatre of Wichita and Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, NY. In 2011, she received the Zelma Weisfeld award from the United States Institute for Theatre Technology in recognition of her costume designs. Her scenic design for Ohio University’s production of The Wonderful World of Dissocia was selected to be part of the 2011 USITT Praque Quadrenial display. She would like to thank: Wayne for the opportunity, Debbie, George, the costume shop (for dealing with my grumpy face), and last but not least Dennis, for all your love and support!
MICHELLE A. BISBEE (Property Master) is excited to be joining the MTWichita for the British Invasion! She is a MFA Scenic Design Graduate from the University of Arizona. At the University she scenic designed Nine and Hay Fever, prop mastered four main stage shows, and managed the properties shop. Other credits include Assistant Head of Props for Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE, Properties and Puppets Technician for Cirque du Soleil’s KA, and Scenic Artist for the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Michelle would like to thank her family, friends and new family at the Music Theatre of Wichita for all of their support.
JEFF TAYLOR (Production Manager) is extremely honored to be back with this excellent cast and crew for his 12th summer at MTWichita. Throughout the years since 2000, he’s had the chance to apprentice, build, design, and even act for MTWichita, and now become the year round Production Manager, working closely with the awesome MTW staff. A loyal Kansan, Jeff graduated from East High and earned his BA in Musical Theatre from Friends University in 2006. In 2011, he earned an MFA in Design & Technology from UMKC. Jeff would like to thank the staff of MTWichita for their support and guidance, and thanks to his wonderful family for their love.
DEBBIE ROBERTS (Costumer / Shop Manager) has designed costumes for many shows here, including Curtains, Fiddler on the Roof, Les Misérables, White Christmas, Thoroughly Modern Millie, High School Musical, State Fair, Funny Girl, The Most Happy Fella, On the Town and West Side Story, plus special costumes for Aida, My Fair Lady (all of Eliza’s gowns), Annie Get Your Gun, Man of La Mancha, Crazy for You, The Sound of Music, My One and Only, and various Festival of Broadway shows. A graduate of Friends University, Debbie received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance and Ballet. “I am so proud of the work that Music Theatre of Wichita does, it is always a pleasure to work each season. While California is home, for over 20 years Wichita has been my summer home, and I look forward to meeting new people and learning new skills each time. Enjoy the shows!”
AJ KELLISON (Asst. Technical Director) started with Music Theatre of Wichita in 2006 and loves working with the excellent people of MTW. AJ also recently spent a year on the road with the gang of Sesame Street Live. Much love to Mom Dad, and sister Laura.
AMY LARINK (Scene Shop Charge Artist) is excited to be back for her second season. She holds a Bachelors in Theatre from Grand Valley in Michigan and completed the two-year scenic program at Cobalt Studios in New York. She currently lives in Chicago and works full time as the charge artist for the Paramount Theatre.
TYLER LESSIN (Assistant Lighting Designer) is thrilled to be returning to MTWichita for his 6th season. A native Wichitan, Tyler has worked with theatre companies all over town. Favorite design credits include: Urinetown (WSU), Chicago, Sweeney Todd, and Annie Get Your Gun (Crown Uptown), The Mystery of Irma Vep and The Full Monty (Forum Theatre), and Le Nozze di Figaro and Il Trovatore (WGO). Tyler would like to thank Wayne, Nancy, Jeff, David, and the MTW staff for this amazing opportunity, the fantastic electrics crew & IATSE Local 190 for their hard work & dedication, and his family and Kyle for their love and support.
EMILY F. McMULLEN (Stage Manager) is back for her 14th summer with MTWichita. Previous productions here include Legally Blonde, Singin’ in the Rain, Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man, Sunset Boulevard, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Curtains, Gypsy, Crazy for You, The Drowsy Chaperone, The Producers, Les Misérables, Big River, …Forum, Seven Brides…, Sweet Charity, Phantom!, Seussical, A Chorus Line, West Side Story, Chicago, Good News!, and ShowBoat. Throughout the year, she is the Production Stage Manager at Merrimack Repertory Theatre outside of Boston and also teaches stage management at Tufts University. She has stage managed for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, North Shore Music Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Capital Repertory Theater, Musical Theatre Guild, Actors Theatre of Phoenix, Broadway Texas, Theatre Emory, and The Shadowland Theatre. Proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.
TIFFANY K. ORR (Production Stage Manager) is originally from Oklahoma. She currently lives in Minneapolis / Saint Paul where she is the production manager for Theater Latte Da. While in the twin cities, she has also stage managed for companies including the Pillsbury House Theatre, The Children’s Theatre Company, Theatre Latte Da, Park Square Theatre, The Playwrights’ Center, The Director’s, and the Guthrie. Previously she has worked on more than a dozen productions as part of the stage management team at the Phoenix Theatre, including Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Women, You Can’t Take It With You, Smokey Joe’s Café and The Will Rogers Follies.
AMANDA BOWMAN (Assistant Stage Manager) is thrilled to be returning home for her 9th summer at MTWichita, after having graduated from WSU in December. She has also worked for Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Crown Uptown, IATSE #190, Walt Disney World, and Merrimack Repertory Theatre. Next, she will be heading to Ohio to be a Stage Management Intern at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.
STEVE LANDES (Director of the Apprentice Program / Shopper-Buyer) is proud to return for his nineteenth summer as the Apprentice Program Director. A Wichita resident for twenty two years, Steve worked for Friends University, the Wichita Center for the Arts, and Shakespeare in the Park. Steve moved to the Kansas City area eight years ago for a teaching position. As an educator, Steve continues to be very excited about working with the apprentices in this unique training program (and MTW is deeply grateful for Steve’s creative dedication to our young people!).
JENNIFER FISHER (Signing Interpreter) I’m thrilled and honored to be back for my fourth season at MTWichita. Interpreting music theatre is my dream job and I can’t thank Wayne and his staff enough for letting me return. Music is my passion and bringing that form of entertainment to the Deaf Community has been very rewarding. I keep busy with my two wonderful girls, Kara and Stephanie, and lead the Deaf Ministry at Central Community Church. Sporadically I interpret other theatrical productions in Wichita such as Wicked (2009) and Music Theatre for Young People’s production of No Small Feat (2011). My other interpreting passion (besides MTWichita), is concerts. I’ve worked with: Castin Crowns, Michael W. Smith, Jeremy Camp, and Clay Aiken. I would like to thank my husband for his support and most importantly God for the blessings He’s given me and the opportunity to work in such an amazing place.
JESSE WARKENTIN (Assistant Musical Director / Keyboards) is amazed to find himself in his 10th consecutive season with MTWichita! He conducted the Festival of Broadway orchestra for five years, and enjoyed music directing High School Musical 2 in 2009. This year he made his debut with the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony as piano soloist, performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue with Maestro Douglas. Throughout the year, Jesse can be found at the new Crown Uptown Dinner Theatre, conducting exciting shows such as this fall’s CATS. “My deepest gratitude to Wayne and Thomas for these special months of rich musical fulfillment at MTWichita, and to my incredible family for their laughter and love.
In the 1860s, Siam was torn between the desire to protect itself from encroachment by westerners, and the yearning for scientific knowledge and industry that the west might provide. Siam’s King Mongkut was a contradictory combination of charm and cruelty, of feudal instincts and a desire for progress.
Into his court came Anna Leonowens, a 31-year-old English widow with an ambiguous past and a mind of her own. By the time she left Siam five years later, Mrs. Leonowens had the King’s multitudinous children speaking excellent English, and (at least, according to her viewpoint) she had the Siamese government well on its way to many liberal reforms.
This was the same period, of course, when President Lincoln was wrestling with slavery in this country. Mrs. Leonowens ensured that King Mongkut developed a working knowledge of Mr. Lincoln’s ways, and had been encouraged to apply many of the President’s principals to Siam itself.
One of Mrs. Leonowens’ prize pupils was the Crown Prince Chulalongkorn, who freed Siam’s slaves upon the death of his father. (Years later, Anna’s son Louis returned to Siam as an adult, married multiple Siamese women, and created a shipping company in partnership with Chulalongkorn.) Another of Anna’s students was a young woman who was so moved by the promise of freedom that she translated Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin into Siamese.
Mrs. Leonowens wrote two books about her life, The English Governess at the Siamese Court (1870), and The Romance of the Harem(1872), both of which are now once again in print. These volumes are filled with exciting incidents and incisive observations. These books, however, should be treated as historical fiction, rather than accurate autobiography.
In neither book does Anna reveal her own true background, being of mixed heritage (her mother was half-Indian), being born into squalor and poverty (her soldier-for-hire father died before she was born), and being the widow of a poor civilian soldier of fortune who died of apoplexy (she preferred to claim he was a military officer, who had died of heatstroke after a tiger hunt!). Anna, in fact, never set foot in England until after her years in Siam.
Even her name wasn’t entirely true. Her husband was named Thomas Leon Owens. Perhaps in order to re-invent herself (needing to support herself and two children, son Louis and daughter Avis), she combined her husband’s middle name with his last name and created a new persona, passing herself off as a cultured and well-bred teacher. She severed all ties with her distant relatives in England, threatening to kill herself if any of them attempted contact.
Her years in Siam were followed by careers as author, lecturer, suffragette, roving reporter in Russia, and founder of a Canadian school of the arts. She died in 1915.
In the 1930s, Christian missionary Margaret Landon was living in Siam and became fascinated by Anna’s books. Landon’s novelization,Anna and the King of Siam, was published in 1944, and movie rights were immediately bought by 20th Century Fox. The (non-musical) film was released in 1946, starring Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison, featuring a flavorful score by Bernard Herrmann, and an intelligent screenplay by Talbot Jennings and Sally Benson. (Many elements of this screenplay would show up – uncredited – in all subsequent dramatizations of the story.)
The film caught the attention of international stage star Gertrude Lawrence, who asked Rodgers and Hammerstein (fresh from their triumph with South Pacific) to fashion the story into a musical play for her.
A dynamic young actor of obscure nationality named Yul Brynner (recommended by Mary Martin, who worked with him in Lute Song)auditioned by sitting cross-legged and barefoot, howling folk songs as he plucked a stringed instrument. And of course, he went on to play the role for the rest of his life, ultimately racking up 4,625 performances (not to mention his Academy Award winning performance in the film version, and his 13 TV episodes opposite the Anna of Samantha Eggar in the ill-conceived 1972 sitcom “Anna and the King”).
For more details of Anna’s extraordinary life, read the new book “Bombay Anna” by Susan Morgan, and see the A&E Biography of “Anna and the King,” produced and written by my brother Steven C. Smith. It is included on the DVD of the Irene Dunne-Rex Harrison film “Anna and the King of Siam.”
After an absence of eleven years, Music Theatre is delighted to bring this compelling story back to our stage, especially with such a stellar company of artists to breathe fresh life into this endlessly fascinating saga.