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Published: Wednesday, 7/23/2008

Musicals end season for 2 regional stages

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Two regional theaters are bringing their summer seasons to an end with Tony Award-winning musicals.

Opening tomorrow in Adrian, The King and I runs through Aug. 3, and in Huron, Ohio, Thoroughly Modern Millie is scheduled Tuesday through Aug. 2.

Based on Margaret Landon s novel Anna and the King of Siam, The King and I won five Tony Awards in 1952, including best musical, best actress for Gertrude Lawrence, and best actor for Yul Brynner.

Set in the early 1860s, the story opens as Anna Leonowens, a widowed Englishwoman, arrives in Bangkok with her young son, Louis, to serve as governess and tutor to King Mongkut s many children. The dictator is interested in modernizing his country on his terms and he and Anna have many quarrels but develop a grudging respect and even love for one another.

Directed by Julianne Dolan, with musical direction by Butch Marshall and choreography by Sue Smith, the Croswell s production stars Michael Yuen as the king and Erin Yuen as Anna.

Appearing in other principal roles are Derek Kastner as Louis, Rob Pettrey as Kralahome, Heather Hamilton as Lady Thiang, Trevor Roderick as Lun Tha, Julia Rohm-Ensing as Tuptim, and Peter Mackey as Sir Edward Ramsay.

Dolan, the director of fine arts for Adrian Public Schools, said the show is providing her with a new challenge.

The audiences of 2008 are not the same as those of the 1960s, she said in a telephone interview earlier this week. They re used to things moving along quickly and don t want to sit still for a three-hour show.

She said she s tightening the plot and working with the set designer to eliminate some of the time-consuming scene changes in order to get the show in the 2 hour range.

The King and I is also providing her with some particular pleasures, notably her two leads.

Erin and Michael are both graduates of the University of Michigan musical theater program, and both worked professionally in the field before settling here to raise their family, she said. Their daughters, ages 3 and about 3 months, will be in the show as well, as children of the king.

The Croswell Opera House opens The King and I at 8 p.m. tomorrow at 129 East Maumee St., Adrian. Other 8 p.m. performances are Saturday and July 31-Aug. 2. Matinees are at 3 p.m. Sunday and Aug. 3. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors, $20 for students, and $15 for children 12 and younger. Information: 517-264-7469 or www. croswell.org.

Dashing leading men, a perky heroine, a tap-dancing chorus, and a hiss-worthy villainess will combine to help the Huron Playhouse wind up its 60th anniversary season.

They re all part of Thoroughly Modern Millie, which opens Tuesday in Huron, Ohio, at the summer stage of Bowling Green State University s department of theater and film.

The show, based on the 1967 movie starring Julie Andrews, revolves around Millie Dillmount, a small-town girl who moves to New York City with the seemingly paradoxical goals of becoming an independent woman and marrying a wealthy man.

But Cupid has other ideas. Millie falls for Jimmie Smith, a ne er-do-well who isn t interested in holding a full-time job. Millie s also in the midst of a mystery. Some of the residents of the Hotel Priscilla, a boarding-house for young, single women, have gone missing, and Millie becomes suspicious of Mrs. Meers, her landlady, and her two Chinese employees.

For the Huron production Millie will be played by Amanda Striph of Toledo. Matt Bugay of Sharon Center, Ohio, is Jimmy Smith; Devan O Mailia of Whitehouse is Dorothy Brown; Jess Aukemann of Bryon Center, Mich., plays Millie s boss, Trevor Graydon; Heather Williams of Grand Forks, N.D. is the actress Muzzy Van Hosmere, and Jennifer Andacht of Oak Creek, Wis., is Mrs. Meers.

The large ensemble is directed by Jim Williams of New York with musical direction by Kerry Glann of Huron.

Thoroughly Modern Millie opens Tuesday and runs through Aug. 2 in the Huron Playhouse in the McCormick School, 325 Ohio St., Huron, Ohio. Performances are at 8 p.m., and tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, and $9 for children 11 and younger from the playhouse box office. Information: 419-433-4744.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com or 419-724-6130.



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