Journey with ‘The King and I’ | NevadaAppeal.com
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Journey with ‘The King and I’

Submitted PhotoJohn Vettel, left, as Captain Orton, Sarah Pennebaker as Anna, Ryan Vettel as Louis, and guards Nick Faver and Ram Stembridge, rehearse a scene from the Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company's "The King and I," opening Saturday.
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Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company wraps up its 2009 season this weekend with a production of the popular Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “The King and I.”

The Tony Award-winning musical features many well-known songs, including “Shall We Dance” and Getting to Know You,” a number originally written for another Rodgers and Hammerstein show, “South Pacific.”

The nearly 60-year-old show follows the adventures of a British teacher, Anna, and her son who in 1862 move to Siam to tutor the many children of the country’s king. The two strong-willed leads struggle in a clash of cultures but form a partnership of equals in the end.

“You will fall in love with these characters,” said Stephanie Arrigotti, the show’s director and producer who runs the performing arts program at Western Nevada College. “The leads are extraordinary.”

The king is played by Leoney Berg who has appeared in 17 WNMTC productions including as Guy Masterson in the group’s production of “Guys and Dolls.”

The king is a difficult role, said Arrigotti, because it remains famous for its original star, Yul Brynner, who played the role in 4,600 stage performances over 33 years as well as on film in the 1956 movie.

“Leoney is tremendously entertaining,” said Arrigotti. “He brings such dimension to the role. And Sarah Pennebaker is absolutely exquisite as Anna. She is a joy to watch – graceful, elegant and deep.”

Pennebaker has played the lead in many WNTMC productions, including as Nellie Forbush in “South Pacific,” Fiona in “Brigadoon,” and Eliza Dolittle in “My Fair Lady.” Both she and Berg study voice with Gary Aldrich in Reno.

The cast also features Robin Kato as Tuptim, Emzy Burroughs and Ryan Ashley as Lun Tha, Bernadette Garcia as Lady Thiang, Ryan Vettel as Anna’s son Louis and about a dozen local children who play the king’s children.

Gina Kaskie-Davis choreographed the show, which was originally choreographed by Jerome Robbins, and Denis McMasters designed the elaborate costumes. Linda Hardy is the show’s pianist while Kevin Murphy is the assistant conductor.

Season tickets for the theater company’s 2010 season will be on sale at the performances.

In February, WNMTC is kicking off the next season with “Opening Night on Broadway,” a revue of current Broadway productions. In May, the group will stage “The Sound Of Music,” and in November the new production of “White Christmas.”

If you go

What: Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company’s production of “The King and I”

Where: Carson City Community Center, 851 E. William St.

When: Nov. 7, 13-14 and 20-21 at 7:30 p.m.; Nov. 8, 15, 21 and 22 at 2 p.m.

Cost: Tickets are $20 for genera admission, $18 for seniors and WNC students, and $16 for aged 17 years old and under

Details: Call the WNC performing arts department at 445-4249 for more information.