The King and I – Interview with YoonJeong Seong

Dallas Summer Musicals present this musical classic in all it's glory.  The King and I has lavish sets, powerful voices and a whirlwind second act that completes the courageous odyssey of Anna, Tuptin, and lastly the King.  Click through for my 3 favorite elements of the show and interview quotes from Tuptin, played by YoonJeong Seong. 

Dallas Summer Musicals New Production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I – by Chris Waits 0913

The King and I revolves around the slow education of the 'barbarian' King by our moral and strong Anna.  It's also the first element I'll focus on.

Three Favorite Elements of the Show:

3.  The King and Anna's growing trust.

Director Glenn Casale may have gotten some flack for who to pick for the King but there is little doubt he has his Anna.  Rachel York is powerful, beautiful, and a constant beacon for the show. She really does stand out in this story.

Dallas Summer Musicals New Production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I – by Chris Waits 0741

YoonJeong Seong said about Rachel York,

"I feel so lucky to work with her.  I want to watch her work because she's such an inspiration.  She's so sweet and nice and humble.  Her Anna is so authentic.  It's because she's not playing it pretty, she's real and you believe she is Mrs. Anna." 

Alan Ariano (King) may not have the name recognition of Ken Watanabe, but he has a great studious quality masked by angry outbursts.  His introduction is rather spectacular as he is adorned in all gold as is his magnificent palace. His heartfelt change in the second act appears so genuine and honest. 

2.  Tuptin and her Lun Tha.

The real highlight of the show is the powerful and universal theme behind Tuptin and Lun Tha's story.  The concubine slave, Tuptin, is played by opera trained YoonJeong Seong.  Her voice is the first real treat of the show, "My Lord and Master" is the showcase piece of the opening act.  The struggle of woman's rights is embody in the Tuptin character.  All the strength that Anna imparts into this personable, young and vibrant Tuptin is the backbone of Rogers and Hammerstein's master work.  The Uncle Tom elements showcase the shackles of Siam.  Their love story is not something that can last, but it's the freedom to be that is their struggle.

Dallas Summer Musicals New Production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I – by Chris Waits 0797

In my interview with Yoonjeong she pointed out that she had acted in this exact partnership with Devin Ilaw 11 years ago.  Their chemistry is apparent and allows for some really poignant interactions.  Yoon said, "I'm impressed by how he has grown as a performer and now he has such technique and power as an actor".  It's obvious they are perfectly cast and their singing is the strongest in the show.  It's not just that Tuptin is a slave wife, she's an outsider.  From a hated neighbor, Burma, that makes her presence all the more damning to the other wives.  She's beautiful and that obviously makes her a target.  But it's the lessons she sees and learn from Anna that really give Tuptin her power . YoonJeong summed up the real emotional connection this play has on people, because she's felt it in her own family's history.

"My Grandma when she married she'd never met my Grandfather before the wedding.  Tuptin presents a woman who is fighting for her love and is good for woman in difficult situations.  She is not just a slave from Burma, She's a woman of strength and struggles for what she wants.  I hope being Tuptin inspires people."

1.  Set and Costumes:

The massive sets, colorful tapestries, and an intricate wardrobe are the testament of DSM's pride in bringing back this classic.  The amount of gold and the vibrant color schemes are so striking and alluring.  The way the children are illuminated by their costumes and the beauty of the wives outfits.  Not to mention the extravagant dresses of Mrs. Anna or the King's wealthy attire.  The real treat is in the second act's pure magical feel and look.  It's a mixture of beauty and power.

Dallas Summer Musicals New Production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I – by Chris Waits 0851      Dallas Summer Musicals New Production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I – by Chris Waits 0793

The look of the show is worth the admission, but it's the amazing performances of Rachel York, Alan Ariano, a spectacular YoonJeong, Seong, Devin Ilwa and the great ensemble of wives, children and King's staff that makes this a real classic. 

Spend the rest of this week and/or your weekend (holiday) experiencing the raw power of the King and I.


For more information on tickets and the show go here.

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