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Youths offer royal treatment to "King and I" audiences

Members of the cast of “The King and I” gathered on the outdoor stage in the park across from Prescott Middle School. The production opens next Thursday and continues for evening performances through next Saturday, resuming Thursday-Saturday, July 18-20, plus has afternoon matinees next Sunday and on Sunday, July 21.

PRESCOTT—Any other time, not having a pit band for a Prescott theatrical production would really be the pits. Judy Johnson of The Great River Road Theatre in Prescott was lamenting being unable to secure a band for the troupe’s production of “The King and I,” opening this Thursday at Town Square Park, when Josh Reinhardt arrived for a recent evening rehearsal. Reinhardt plays the son of the king, the lead role played by Carl Tiede, who’s joined in the other lead by Natalie Nelson.

“You’ve got to hear them sing,” he said excitedly about the pair of talented youths from River Falls.

And when Johnson reported Lisa Griffin of Ellsworth will accompany all of the singers on the piano--well, if there were doubts about the potential for this presentation of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical to be successful, they began fading. Griffin is not only an organist for Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Beldenville, but has provided piano music for a couple of previous Prescott plays.

Along with the young people in the leads, approximately 20 children from age five and up are part of the cast, Johnson said. That’s out of a cast totaling around 30 people.

“They’re on stage half of the time,” she estimated for the kids’ contribution, noting “The King and I” was chosen after a desire to “do something with kids” was expressed at a March meeting of the theatre group’s board.

Johnson said the plot has a lady in England, Anna Leone, receiving a letter from the King of Siam, seeking someone to teach his children. He offers her a salary as well as providing her with a home if she’ll come to his country, and she accepts. Although he doesn’t initially keep all of his promises, she falls in love with her host.

For more please read the July 10 print version of the Herald. 

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

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