JCJC’s Theater department presents, “The King and I”

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2018-02-05 22:22:19

ELLISVILLE- Jones County Junior College’s Theater department’s production of, “The King and I” will take the audience on a journey, not only in time to the 1860’s, but also to the mysterious, tropical country of Siam, currently known as Thailand.  Performances will be Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3, at 7 p.m. with a Sunday matinee on March 4, at 2:30 p.m. in the M. P. Bush Fine Arts Auditorium on the JCJC campus in Ellisville. Tickets are $5 for children and $10 for adults and can be purchased at the door. JCJC students, staff and faculty can enter free with their JCJC ID card. For more information, please contact Jennifer Bruton at 601-477-2675 or email her at, jennifer.bruton@jcjc.edu.

JCJC’s presentation of “The King and I” is a tale about a culture clash that may seem familiar in modern times. The Tony Award-winning show debuted on Broadway in 1951, composed by the famous team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The play is based on Margaret Landon’s novel, Anna and the King of Siam, and based on the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, the governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam. JCJC theater instructor and producer, stage director, design and technical director, Jennifer Bruton said she was not sure if the classic Broadway musical would be well received because of the similar tensions currently being discussed in the world.

“I struggled when choosing a show this year because we are living in a very sensitive time and the classic musicals are full of abused and mistreated women and men that are terrible role models. From ‘Oklahoma!’ to ‘My Fair Lady,’ I worried about the message that I might be sending. However, we discussed in class the value of classic musical theatre.” Bruton continued, “In every class I teach, I try to stress the importance of social and cultural context. Literature, art and music are a mirror, reflecting the issues of the day. By looking into that mirror, we gain an understanding, even though those insights may be painful.”

The cast of 25 is comprised of JCJC students who are majoring in English to general studies, as well as music/theater, and will feature young children from the Pine Belt. Jonathan Beland of Long Beach will take the lead role as the King of Siam, and the role of Anna Leonowens, the British governess, will be played by Reagan Barber of Ellisville. While this is Barber and Beland’s debut on the JCJC stage, they have previously performed in various venues. Barber is a member of JC Voices, The Bridge- a jazz vocal ensemble, and she has performed throughout Jones County as a soloist and as part of choirs. Barber has performed on stage since she was 11years old.  

“I auditioned for the part of Anna because I like her spark. She is a strong woman who is a great role model for young ladies everywhere.  She embodies grace, strength, and confidence.  The challenge for me with this part was trying to understand the personal struggles Anna had after losing a husband and being a single mother. I cannot relate to either of those situations, so I have to dig deep to attempt to understand how she feels,” said Barber.

Being the King of Siam in the “King and I” maybe a little more of a challenge for Beland because of his extra-curricular activities including musical groups, JC Voices and Bridge as the student recruiting organization, Bobcat Brigade. However, being on the stage is not unusual for Beland.  He was most recently cast as Daddy Warbucks in “Annie,” the Chief Gorilla, Kerchak in “Tarzan” and Slim in “Oklahoma” for productions through the Long Beach School district. After being an engineering major for a year, Beland realized he missed the stage and singing.

“I auditioned for the role of the King of Siam because it had been so long since I had done anything with the arts.  I really missed singing and acting so I thought I would try out for the part,” said Beland.  “Landing this part has been really enjoyable as I learn the music and the characters in the play.  This has been a great opportunity to meet new people and have fun!”
Beland and Barber will portray the intricacies of Anna and the King of Siam’s relationship as their characters’ personalities collide in an ever-changing world of power struggles and personal choices. The King is not fond of Anna’s worldly ways, even though the King desires the prestige of a British education for his children as he enters the world stage. The character’s conflicting cultural views amidst their romantic feelings eventually develop into a mutual respect, leading to comprise on some issues.

“I’m so excited to be a part of this well-known show,” said JCJC sophomore from Lafayette, Louisiana, Amy Champion. “This is the second musical I’ve been in at Jones. Last year’s play was more modern and this one is a classic. I’m glad I have the experience of both productions.”

Joining the JCJC Theater department this year is Hattiesburg’s, Tammy Mansfield in the roles of assistant director and music director. Mansfield will conduct the live orchestra for the performances.

Bruton said, “Her extensive background in musical theatre, music arranging and directing is an invaluable asset in producing this show. Additionally, Paige Perkins of Hattiesburg has returned to assist JCJC’s theater department to choreograph the iconic, ‘Shall We Dance’ and the extended dance section in the Second Act. Also, Laurel’s Derrick Meador will also continue his role as piano accompanist for the show.”

For more information about JCJC’s Fine Arts department events and ticket purchases, contact the office at 601-477-4203.

Theater Cast & Performers
King of Siam-Jonathan Beland, Long Beach
Anna Leonowens-Reagan Barber, Ellisville
The Kralahome (Prime Minister, loyal government official)
             Krimél Chandler, Liberty
Captain Orton-Landon Williams, Waynesboro
Sir Edward Ramsay (distinguished British statesman)
            Joshua Anderson, Sand Hill
Lun Tha-Davonzell Moncrief, Montrose     
Tuptim-Sydney Brady, Madison
Addison Nelms (understudy), Brandon
Lady Thiang-Katherine Hovan, Chalmette, LA      
Prince Chulalongkorn-Jorge Castillo, Ellisville
Louis Leonowens-Scott Bolster, Hattiesburg
The Interpreter-Derrick Williams, Laurel
Phra Alak-Jeremiah Haynes, Columbia
Princess Ying Yaowalak-Amelia Stringer, Laurel
Royal Children
         Lexie Ruth-Laurel
Abigail Stringer-Laurel
Addison Stringer-Laurel
         Emma Kate Bolster-Hattiesburg
 Zoe Langley-Ellisville
Claire Christensen-Hattiesburg
Brody Griffin-Ellisville
Makayla Johnson-Ellisville
Angela Martinez-Ellisville
Audrey Arguello, Ellisville
        Carley Carpenter, Leroy, AL
        Amy Champion, Lafayette, LA
        Reagan Dukes, Laurel
        Addison Nelms, Madison
        Kendra Stevison, Lucedale
Ensemble Men
      Antonio Ducksworth-Louin
      Crawford (CJ) Hunter-Laurel
      Kysam Moody-Laurel
      Nathan Lucky-Meridian


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