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Theatre for Every Age:

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Bradley Barefoot and Kendra Goehring-Garrett play Louis and Anne Leonowens in ‘The King and I.’ Courtesy photo.

This week in theatre, two shows from local female directors open. Susan Auten of Guerilla Theatre presents the heartwarming story of a circus down-on-its-luck in “Django Salvatori’s Awe-inspiring, Death-defying, Big Top Spectacuganza… Featuring Ralph!” From Opera House Theatre Company, Suellen Yates directs the classic musical “The King and I.” Both shows run through the month of June, and should delight audiences of all ages.

Django Salvatori’s Awe-inspiring, Death-defying, Big Top Spectacuganza… Featuring Ralph!
June 9-12, 16-19, 23-25
Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m. • Sun., 5 p.m.
Browncoat Pub and Theatre
$10-15 • www.browncoattheatre.com
From Wilmington playwright Justin Cioppa comes “Django,” a story that follows a circus that’s seen its fair share of tragic bad luck. “For starters, it occurs during WWII, so times are hard for everyone,” director and actress Susan Auten says. “I play T.C., the owner of the rival circus in town that is thriving. T.C. has opened her circus and stolen all of Django’s best acts. A string of unfortunate events [also takes place for Django], such as their fortune teller being hit by a bus and the bearded lady being eaten by the half-man, half-gator. Crowds at this point have been reduced to a handful.”

Django Salvatori, played by Brendan Carter, is joined by a few off-the-wall characters. Within his circus there are: a pair of clowns, Murray and Agnes (Nick Smith and Amanda Young), who have a few self-esteem issues; Dignon (Hank Toler), the strong man who’s gotten rather weak; and Knives (Charles Auten), the nearly blind knife-thrower who speaks little-to-no English. The gang is joined by Barnes (Beth Raynor), a rough-around-the-edges homeless girl hoping to get a job with the circus and to find a family.

Kameron King plays the role of Ralph, a great act that may be able to save Django’s big top. Ralph brings not only a talent that might salvage the circus but a wonderful gift: hope. “I think it’s one of the most well-rounded shows I’ve ever been a part of,” Auten says. “There’s something for everyone, and [it’s] definitely entertaining.”

Presented by Guerilla Theatre, “Django” runs Thursday through Sunday at Browncoat Pub and Theatre. Tickets are $10 in advance, available at www.browncoattheatre.com, or $15 at the door.

The King and I
June 8-12, 17-19, 24-26
Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m. • Sun., 3 p.m.
Thalian Hall • $23-25
www.thalianhall.com
A classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “The King and I” is a love story disregarding age and ethnicity. Set in 1862, the King of Siam (Robin Dale Robertson) realizes the Western culture is closing in on his country. His many wives and children need an understanding of this new, impending world in order to survive the inevitable changes it will bring.

Thus, he hires Anna Leonowens (Kendra Goehring-Garrett), an English widow, as a tutor for his family. Despite the cultural differences the king and Anna face, they develop a mutual adoration for one another.

“The king and Anna especially have a non-traditional story,” director Suellen Yates says, “a love story, yes, but a love based on mutual respect and regard, with just a touch of romance.”

Opera House Theatre Company had over 140 people audition for their summer season. Yates was able to cast the absolute best, old and young.

“I cannot say enough about the children of the king,” she divulges. “The children steal Anna’s heart and keep her bound to Siam. Believe me, the audience will also quickly lose their hearts to our adorable, talented young actors.”

The theatre company pulled out all the stops for “The King and I,” as well. Debbie Scheu is a regionally renowned costumer, and she managed to depict the traditional dress of 19th century Siam. Judy Greenhut is the choreographer, and she created an Asian ballet for act two, which Yates raves about. Finally, the company organized 20 musicians—the most ever in an Opera House show—under the direction of Lorene Walsh.

The story hits close to home for Yates, too. “As a mother of two beautiful and talented Asian daughters, I hope the audience will see, hear and feel my love for this fascinating and beautiful people and culture.”

The play runs Wednesday through Sunday for the opening week, and Friday through Sunday thereafter at Thalian Hall. Tickets for “The King and I” are $23 to $25, available at www.thalianhall.com.

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