An evening with “The King & I” at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
“The King & I” is a movie I have cherished since childhood, and after my first experience at the Candlelight watching their production of “Clue,” I was a little concerned. Could they put on such a well-known and well-liked classic? While I was a little let down by “Clue,” I can happily report that my concerns about their current show vanished as soon as the first scene began to unfold.
First, I will give you a short history lesson. The “King & I” is based on a 1944 novel by Margaret Landon called “Anna & the King of Siam.” Landon based her novel on the memoirs of Anna Leonewens, a widow who spent five years in Siam during the late 1800s, teaching English to the King of Siam’s wives and children.
Ladon’s book inspired the three films, the most famous is the 1956 musical that had been adapted from the stage version of the story. That film starred Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr, and their portrayal of Anna and the King have become the standard by which the roles are measure.
That brings me back to the Candlelight’s production of this beloved musical. David Ambroson and Heather Lacy were cast as the King and Anna, and they pulled off the roles splendidly. The actors who play these parts must channel Kerr and Brynner, but they must also make the roles their own, and Ambroson and Lacy did just that.
From the opening song, I knew Lacy had the pipes and the pep to play the part, and from the moment Ambroson appeared on stage, I knew he had the right kind of stage presence to play the King.
I most enjoyed Anna’s authenticity, the liveliness of the dance numbers, the beautiful costumes, the insane cuteness of the youngest members of the cast, and the talent – from dancing to singing, the talents of this cast and crew is palpable.
The Uncle Tom’s cabin scene deserves mention in this review. The costuming along with the skills of the actors really made me fee like I was watching the movie I loved so much as a child.
This is a colorful, energetic and all around good time play, and the live music from the Candlelight’s orchestra ties it all together. I was truly transported to Siam.
I can’t finish off this review without writing about our meal, which in the past has been the standout for me at the Candlelight. This evening was no exception. I’ve mentioned this in prior dinner theater reviews, and will no doubt state it again, but I love dinner theater because it’s truly an entire evening of entertainment. You get a dinner and a show without ever having to leave your seat.
We started out with drinks; I got a martini while Ryan ordered one of the show’s drink specials. I think it was called a Whistling Anna. We also ordered the stuffed mushrooms and shrimp cocktail appetizers. I was under whelmed with the shrooms, but Ryan liked them a lot. The shrimp were huge and delicious with the sauce, a thick concoction featuring fresh horseradish.
The dinner entrees at Candlelight change fairly frequently and for this particular show the menu has an Asian flair, featuring items such as sweet and sour chicken, beef kabobs with teriyaki sauce, citrus tilapia with coconut, and vegetable lo mein.
On the hearty recommendation of our waiter, who played one of the King’s guards and the interpreter in the play, I ordered the Thai style beef short ribs ($11). While your meal and non-alcoholic drinks are included in the price of your ticket, the Candlelight always has a certain number of upgraded entrÃ©e options for an additional charge.
Ryan went with the standard menu, choosing the vegetable lo mein and adding chicken, for an additional $3. His lo mein was good, but my ribs were fabulous. They take the rib meat off the bone, which is nice because gnawing on a bone in a place as fancy as the Candlelight seems wrong. The meat was so tender I could cut it with a knife, and their made-in-house bbq sauce was the perfect combination of sweet and savory.
At the intermission we were served our dessert, a banana foster bread pudding ($6) and coffee. Again, the Candlelight impressed me with their food. At other dinner theaters around Colorado, the food often tastes as if it was sitting under hot lights for a time before it was served. At the Candlelight I get the feeling my food was made by someone who really cares about being a good chef, and takes pride in putting out top quality dishes.
This isn’t a cheap evening out, especially if you add in upgrades, drinks and dessert, but for a special occasion and a memorable experience, I think it’s worth the price. The Candlelight is located in Johnstown, Colorado, just east of I25, near Johnson’s Corner.
“The King & I” has been extended to play through June 12, 2011. Ticket prices are$29.50, for children 18 and under and adults range from $45.50 to $57.50. Tickets include dinner and non-alcoholic drinks. There is also show-only seating available in the balcony for $29.50. For more information visit www.coloradocandlelight.com or call (970) 744-3747.