A production fit for a king

Klahowya junior Cherisse Martinelli (center), who plays Anna in “The King and I,” rehearses a classroom scene in the musical Wednesday night. “The King and I” will be performed at Klahowya Secondary School this week and next week. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Klahowya junior Cherisse Martinelli (center), who plays Anna in “The King and I,” rehearses a classroom scene in the musical Wednesday night. “The King and I” will be performed at Klahowya Secondary School this week and next week.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals


Staff writer

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Roger and Hammerstein’s “King and I” musical and Klahowya Secondary School students will begin celebrating the special occasion next week.

With director Jacqueline Levenseller at the helm, Klahowya students will perform “The King and I” for the next two weeks. Opening night is scheduled for Wednesday, March 19, with other shows following on March 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28. The three-hour show begins promptly at 6:30 p.m. in Klahowya’s auditorium.

The large cast consists of children as young as 4. Klahowya students and parents joined forces to make up the production’s orchestra.

“We are pretty big, I would say around 80,” said Sharon Martinelli, costume mistress and volunteer. “Last year we did a small play with a cast of six, but we try to do a large play every now and then.”

As costume mistress, Martinelli created many of the cast’s elaborate and colorful costumes. She said she could not buy costumes from everyday stores because they had to be resemble the outfits worn during that time period.

“These costumes were too hard (to find). You couldn’t find them at like Goodwill,” Martinelli said. “They had to be period appropriate.”

With help from other parents, Martinelli created around 300 different costumes for the young cast of the play. She had to get creative when it came to some outfits. A few of the hats worn in Klahowya’s “The King and I” were made from Christmas tree figurines.

Klahowya students and their parents put in many hours over the past two months preparing for opening night of “The King and I.” The group created the elegant set and props on their own.

“This is just really all volunteer,” Martinelli said.

Margaret London’s popular novel, “Anna and the King of Siam,” is the basis for the Broadway musical. The novel is based on the diaries of Anna Leonowens who served as a school teacher for the children of King Mongkut of Siam. The musical was made most popular by Yul Brenner who played the role of King Mongkut in more than 4,000 performances.

Martinelli, a junior, takes on the role of Anna and sophomore Anthony Zendejas plays King Mongkut in Klahowya’s production.

Klahowya’s cast and crew of “The King and I” is competing in the 5th Avenue High School Musical Theatre Awards. High schools throughout the state compete to win awards from the Seattle theatre ranging from best overall musical production, lead actors, supporting actors to chorus, choreography and orchestra.

“Every year it’s a state competition with 5th Avenue Theatre,” Martinelli said. “It’s like the Tonys for high schools. They judge you on choreography, your set, best actress, best actor.”

Klahowya has won several 5th Avenue Theatre awards in the past and both Martinelli and Zendejas have won best actor awards for previous musical productions and both are nominated for the honor this year.

People can purchase tickets for Klahowya’s “The King and I” for $6 each at Klahowya’s bookkeeper’s office and the Kitsap Mall information booth.

‘The King and I’

Klahowya Secondary School


March 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28

6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $6 each and can be purchased at the Klahowya bookkeeper’s office and Kitsap Mall information booth.


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