Playbill News: The King & I Will Tour in 2004 With Sandy Duncan; Stefanie Powers Whistles Happy Tune in 2005
A new production of The King & I starring Sandy Duncan as Mrs. Anna will launch in Pittsburgh in June 2004 and play theatres that are part of the Independent Presenters Network, with Stefanie Powers taking over the lead in 2005.
Atlanta's Theater of the Stars, headed by producer Christopher B. Manos, in partnership with the Independent Presenters Network, mounts the tour, to be directed Baayork Lee, who made her professional stage debut in the original Broadway production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein smash at age five.
After kicking off at Pittsburgh's Benedum Center in the summer of 2004, the tour will visit Atlanta, Dallas, St. Paul, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and San Francisco, among many other cities. Duncan plays the leading lady (opposite a yet-to-be-announced King) June to December 2004. Powers (TV's "Hart to Hart") plays the part January to December 2005.
Set in the 1860s in the exotic capital city of Bangkok, Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King & I is the timeless love story between a powerful and stubborn king and a determined governess, representing East meeting West, culture clash and (to some modern audiences) the condescending imposition of democratic customs and ideas. It's based on a true story, which was fictionalized in the novel, "Anna and the King of Siam."
The score includes such classics as "Hello Young Lovers," "I Whistle A Happy Tune," "Shall We Dance?" and "Getting To Know You."
Musical direction is by Kevin Farrell. Designers are Kenneth Foy (scenic), Roger Kirk (costume), John McLain (lighting) and Abe Jacob (sound).
Choreography is by Susan Kikuchi. Kikuchi was a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company from 1978-1984 and has served as director of both the Martha Graham Ensemble and the Martha Graham School. She has re staged many Graham works often in collaboration with her mother, Yuriko, for the Joffrey Ballet and Boston Conservatory. (Yuriko was Jerome Robbins' assistant on the original Broadway production of The King & I and was the choreographer for the recent revival on Broadway.) On the Broadway stage, Kikuchi was supervisor of Jerome Robbins' choreography ("The Small House of Uncle Thomas" ballet) and Dance Captain for The King & I at the Neil Simon Theater. She was also soloist and dance captain in The King & I with Yul Brynner.
Sandy Duncan was born and raised in Texas and made her theatrical debut in a summer production of The King & I in Dallas at the age of 12. Her New York stage career began at the New York City Center, where she appeared as Louise in Agnes de Mille's production of Carousel, followed by The Music Man, The Sound of Music, Finian's Rainbow and Life With Father. She got her big break in the Broadway musical, Canterbury Tales, for which she received her first Tony Award nomination in 1969 as Best Supporting Actress in a Musical. Her second Tony Award nomination was for her starring role in the production of The Boyfriend, for which she received the New York Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award. Following her TV series, "Funny Face," she returned to Broadway as Peter Pan. Her performance earned her a third Tony nomination as Best Actress in a Musical.
Powers will be recreating the role of Anna that she recently played in a UK revival of The King & I. Her numerous stage credits include Oliver!, Annie Get Your Gun, My Fair Lady and the London production of Matador. She also starred as the legendary Margo Channing in a touring revival of Applause – The Musical All About Eve. She reunited with "Hart to Hart" co-star Robert Wagner in the play Love Letters in London's West End, followed by tours of the play in the U.S. and Canada.
Baayork Lee created the role of Connie in A Chorus Line, serving as assistant choreographer to Michael Bennett. Her directing credits include Porgy And Bess at the Tome Opera in Italy (which then toured for seven years), Barnum for Cy Coleman in Sydney, Australia and the summer 2002 European tour of Jesus Christ Superstar.