"Something Wonderful": Lyric Stage to Premiere Restored Bennett Orchestrations for The King and I

News   "Something Wonderful": Lyric Stage to Premiere Restored Bennett Orchestrations for The King and I Robert Russell Bennett's original orchestrations to the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I will be heard anew when the Lyric Stage of Irving Texas presents that classic musical in June.

Lyric Stage will be the first company to premiere Bennett's newly restored 1951 orchestrations, which the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization has been working to assemble for the past four years. Lyric Stage has also received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to employ a 35-piece orchestra to perform Bennett's orchestrations as originally written.

In 2007 Lyric Stage also premiered Don Walker's restored original orchestrations for Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel performed by a 40-piece orchestra. The production of The King and I reunites director Cheryl Denson and musical director/conductor Jay Dias. Choreography is by Ann Nieman.

"The King and I is one of the most exciting and important restorations R&H has ever undertaken," said Bruce Pomahac, director of music for The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, in a statement. "For four years we’ve been tracking down and examining the original Broadway scripts, scores and instrumental parts in order to put back into the show pieces of the puzzle that have been missing for over fifty years. To that effect, we are indeed fortunate to once again be joining forces with producer, Steven Jones, director, Cheryl Denson and musical director Jay Dias. A restoration of a Broadway score isn’t complete until it is performed, and Lyric Stage’s June production will be the final step in polishing and perfecting this new edition of one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s greatest musicals. When the curtain rises in Irving in June, Lyric Stage’s audiences will be seeing and hearing The King and I as it has not been seen and heard since it opened on Broadway in 1951.”

The principal cast of The King and I features Luann Aronson, who appeared on Broadway as Christine in Phantom of the Opera and in the original Sydmonton Festival staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard, as Anna Leonowens opposite Texas stage veteran Joe Nemmers as the King. The cast also features Ya Han Chang as Lady Thiang, Jung Eun Kim as Tup Tim and Adrian Li Donni is Lun Tha.

The King and I premiered on Broadway in 1951 at the St. James Theatre, where it earned the Tony Award for Best Musical, and took Best Acting honors for its stars Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence. Yul Brenner appeared in the 1956 film adaptation and returned for two subsequent revivals of the musical in 1977 and 1978. Most recently, Donna Murphy and Lou Diamond Philips appeared in the 1996 Broadway revival at the Neil Simon Theatre, where the production earned the Tony for Best Revival and Best Actress for Murphy. The King and I will run June 19-28 at the Irving Arts Center’s Carpenter Performance Hall. For tickets phone (972) 252-2787 or visit LyricStage.

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