Mirror Magazine


AIS set to stage lavish musical

Anna and the King: A clash of cultures
By Esther Williams
The King of Siam, a time-honoured classic that has captivated millions with its delightful story of Anna Leonowens, brought to the court of Siam as tutor to the king's children will be presented by the Asian International School (AIS) on May 9 and 10.

Based on the musical, The King and I by Rogers and Hammerstein, it is a true story set in 19th century Thailand. Soon after British governess Anna arrives in this exotic land, she finds herself engaged in a battle of wits with its strong-willed ruler, King Mongkut. Interpretations of this musical have been portrayed in various theatrical productions.

The AIS' eclectic version of this favourite musical is a creative combination of narrative, drama, song and dance by a 120-member cast from the lower and middle schools. Directed by Samantha Abeyweera de Soysa and Indu Dharmasena, the script has been adapted to suit the large number of participants and the stage.

What makes this story very popular is the contrast between two cultures - Anna, a woman from the Victorian era who is ignorant of local customs and arrogant about her civilisation and the oriental culture of the King of Siam. Much effort has been taken to portray this effectively on stage, also to bring to life the Siam of that era.

"It is a charming story line that is well known. The colour, tradition and pageantry are something that Asian audiences can relate to," says Director Samantha.

A Filipino student, Saidomar Macasiling, fits the role of King Mongkut, while Saveeta de Alwis plays Anna and Tanya Rajendra, Lady Thiang, the head wife of the King.

Also among the cast are Tuptim (Savita Brito-Mutunayagam) who has been gifted to the King by Burma and her lover Luntha (Ayaska Fernando), both talented singers who have taken part in previous school productions.

The co-ordinator of the play, Sharon Rajendra says that the main characters and all the others - wives, children, dancers, courtiers, etc. - are experiencing a full-length theatrical production for the first time.

"Most importantly, they have enjoyed themselves," adds Producer of the play and Head of Juniors, Dushy Parakrama.

The sets are lavish with elegant pillars for the palace and sensational costumes made from vibrant and rich silk and satin, making the production spectacular.

The beautiful and unforgettable scores from the original including Shall We Dance, I Whistle A Happy Tune, Hello Young Lovers and Getting To Know You are part of the play. Accompaniment is provided by Soundari David on piano and Christopher Prins on the drums. Yoshita Abeysekera has choreographed the dances.

The play will be staged at the Bishop's College auditorium on May 9 and 10 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the school office.

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