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Etcetera etcetera, all the rest and so forth

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Submitted by on Sun 16/07/17 18:48

The stage overflowed on Saturday night with 70 sparkling young performers as they were roundly applauded by an appreciative audience. The Brisbane Adventist College students had just completed their final performance of Getting to Know... The King and I in a packed Princess Theatre at Woolloongabba.  

The well known musical production has travelled the world since it first debuted on Broadway in 1951, taking up the cause against slavery, tyranny, sexism and anti-intellectualism, and celebrating people who stand up for and live what they believe. Daring in its day, the themes are still relevant today.

The show follows the story of Anna Leonowens, a widowed British schoolteacher who arrives in 1860’s Bangkok to tutor the King of Siam’s children (and wives) in English. The King will also learn much from Anna, including a new favourite saying "Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera..." to pretentiously conclude every royal statement and decree. However, in the opening scene, Anna is surrounded by her luggage on a Bangkok dock with her young son Louis, facing a somewhat unknown future. She explains to Louis how she distracts herself from her nervousness by “whistling a happy tune”, which they then proceed to do, thus setting the scene for the challenging adventures to come.

What follows is a portrayal of clashing wills, vulnerability, humour, tragedy, and most of all, deepening respect. Anna and the King's troubled relationship finally blossoms into lasting friendship when they dance together to the unforgettable “Shall We Dance”.

The gritty, graceful Anna; the tormented, relatable King; the wise, compassionate Lady Thiang; the doomed Lun Tha and Tuptim; the oriental interpretation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin; the growing wisdom of Prince Chulalongkorn — all created profound and memorable moments. The antics of the children balanced this with moments of playfulness and innocence.

It’s not surprising that Brisbane Adventist College revisited this production, first performed in 2002. The epic proportions of the show enabled the directors to include a selection of Primary students in the predominantly Secondary cast, and provide a charming score for students to sing in pure voice with just the lightest operatic touch.

“There’s such extraordinary raw talent on that stage tonight and a lot of work behind the scenes. It’s amazing how things can come together as a result of commitment, training and hard work,” said one audience member who had come to the performance as a family friend.

The 70-strong cast of students from Year 2 to Year 12 were assembled by experienced Artistic Director Kym Hassen and Musical Director Krysten Rowe. With two terms for rehearsals and a final big push during the last school holiday, the cast and crew were ready to experience what it is like to tell a story through drama and music. This is the same platform from which a number of past students have gone on to study drama and music, perform in professional or amateur theatre and television, or become actively involved in spreading the gospel through the performing arts.

Anna and the King, the wives, children, court officials, ambassadors, priests, guards, amazons, ballet dancers, captain and deckhands… will never forget this night. Nor will their proud families and friends, the backstage and support crew, and the Brisbane Adventist College members of staff.

Thank you to absolutely everyone who put in many hours to make the 2017 Brisbane Adventist College musical a resounding success.

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