The Community Children’s Theatre of the Peoria Park District is pleased to present its winter musical, The King and I, December 9 through 12, at Peoria Players Theatre.

This Rogers and Hammerstein musical is set in Siam in the 1860s. East meets West as widowed Anna and her son come to Siam to teach English to the King’s children. Anna finds the King a difficult man, but also sees that he has an inherent goodness. However, pride of being King keeps him from admitting Anna’s remarkable influence on everyone in the King’s palace. The play has plenty of comedy and playfulness, as well as serious moments, where sensitive issues such as slavery and women’s rights are addressed with care. It’s a moving and heartwarming play suitable for the entire family and is based on a true story.

The King and I ran for more than 1,200 performances on Broadway and includes such familiar and endearing songs as "I Whistle a Happy Tune," "Getting to Know You," and "Shall We Dance?"

Playing the role of the King of Siam-made famous by Yul Brynner in the Broadway and movie versions-is Jonathan Friday, a junior from Peoria Christian School. This is Friday’s first show with CCT, but he’s performed in several productions with various theatre groups in Minnesota, from which he recently relocated. He looks forward to playing such a demanding role, commenting, "The King wants so badly for his country to join the modern, ’scientific’ world. What he just doesn’t realize is that he is his own worst enemy."

Playing the role of Anna is Hope Grandon, a Notre Dame High School sophomore who recently returned to Peoria after living in Iowa and England for the past six years. Grandon said, "I’m excited beyond words about this show. Anna is an excellent role model for young women, and I look forward to the challenge of bringing such a beloved character to life."

The cast also includes Rebecca Maloney as Lady Thiang, Emily Nichelson as Tuptim, Andy Corbin as Lun Tha, and 53 supporting cast members.

The production staff includes accompanist Jerry Hyland, choreographer Shannon Orill, costumer Carrie Valeriano, set designer Elaine Michelfelder, stage manager McKenzie Curtin, and set construction by Chris Holdham.

Community Children’s Theatre was founded in 1957 as a cooperative effort between the Peoria Park District and community volunteers dedicated to providing a healthy experience in dramatics for children ages eight to 18 in the Peoria area. The program is planned and developed by an advisory board, with administrative support provided by Peoria Park District Fine Arts Coordinator Linda Elegant Huff. Presently, CCT’s programming includes two musical play productions each year, which take place in July and December.

The King and I is performed at 7 p.m., December 9, 10 and 11, and at 1:30 p.m., December 11 and 12, at Peoria Players Theatre. Tickets cost $8 for adults and $6 for children 12 and under. They can be purchased at the Peoria Park District’s Glen Oak Pavilion or one hour prior to performances at Peoria Players Theatre. For more information, call 688-3667. AA!