July 23, 2014 | 10:20 AM
When it comes to entertainment of any kind, if the stars or headliners put in a good performance, chances are it will be a resounding success. That is definitely the case with Hayswood Theatre's production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic musical "The King and I."
Led by Gary Crockett as King of Siam and Laura Van Fossen as Anna Leonowens, the school teacher, the musical was a joy to experience as the lead roles turned in powerful performances that carried the show. Van Fossen's vocals and Crockett's demeanor and comedy are worth the price of admission alone.
Van Fossen said playing Anna was one of her dream roles, and it showed, with a display of passion and near flawless execution.
The musical takes place in 1860s Siam as the King of Siam attempts to bring Western culture to his court by engaging Leonowens to teach royal princes and princesses. Political unrest and intrigue within Siam causes Leonowens to suggest to the king that they entertain in grand style, hosting a European dinner and ball for high-ranking British men and women who plan to visit the King's court.
The musical is based on Margaret Landon's novel, "Anna and the King of Siam."
The supporting cast also was strong, especially the many youngsters who comprised the king's royal family, including Theordore Copperwaite as Prince Chulalongkorn and Hayden Haas, as Anna's son Louis Leonowens.
The scene where each child comes to meet Anna, after bowing before their father, made for a chance for comedy and the young actors and actresses to shine without saying a word.
The youngest cast member, making his first stage appearance, was 3-year-old John-Paul Travis, who was playing a Royal Prince. His biography said he likes tractors, superheroes and dirt. You can't beat that.
The costumes were the most colorful and eye-catching of any musical that I've seen on the Winston stage at Hayswood.
Songs in the popular musical include "I Whistle a Happy Tune" and "Shall We Dance."
Other cast members include Ben Stephens (Capt. Orton), Wesley Bledsoe (Phra Alak), Kevin Anderson (The Kralahome), Evan Hanson (Lun Tha), Megan Bauserman (Tuptim), Sandy Aich (Lady Thiang), Madelyn Copperwaite (Princess Ying Yaowalak), Charles Swarens (Sir Edward Ramsay), Elizabeth Anderson, Sally Bledsoe and Abigail Suddarth (the Amazons), Elizabeth Anderson, Rachel Barr, Morgan Bell, Madelyn Copperwaite, Katie Hamann, Hannah Niece, Debbie Smith, Abigail Suddarth, Trinity Travis and Lauren Wilkinson (dancers) and Rachel Barr, Morgan Bell, Bethany Copperwaite, Cassandra Copperwaite, Rebecca Copperwaite, Katie Hamann, Hannah Niece, Maria Sands, Autumn Smith, Debbie Smith, Bridget Travis, Felicity Travis, Tabitha Travis, Tessa Travis, Trinity Travis, Lauren Wilkinson and Jenna Kay Williams (royal wives, princes and princesses).
The production team includes Alan Weller, director and set design; Rita Hight, production manager and choreographer; Kathy Norton, stage manager; Peggy Stephens, assistance stage manager; Scott Smith and Eric Bell, set construction; Larry Morgan and Sheryl Scharf, scenic design/painting; and Daniel Suddarth, musical director.
"Alan Weller and Rita Hight have been incredible to watch," Suddarth said. "Alan picked up the pieces and put them back together. Rita, thanks for getting the grant and all your hard, unappreciated work. Thanks to Scott Smith for building us a safe perch to play from."
The show continues Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. until Aug. 3.
Tickets — on sale at the Blaine H. Wiseman Visitor Center in downtown Corydon and by calling the Center at 812-738-2138 — are $14 for adults and $12 for seniors 65 and older and children 17 and younger.
For more information about the musical or Hayswood Theatre, visit online at hayswoodtheatre.org.