Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

June 6, 2013

Broadway, International Asian Star is King in CCP's The King and I


CROSSVILLE — He has starred in Broadway’s Miss Saigon and traveled world theaters as the King of Siam. Now Herman Sebek, one of the world’s most prominent Asian-American actors, is again crowned “King” in Cumberland County Playhouse’s lavish new production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic, The King and I. Featuring a cast of over 70 actors, this spectacular musical will open on June 14. 

Mr. Sebek starred as “The Engineer” in Miss Saigon, both on Broadway and around the world, winning the prestigious Carbonell Award for Best Actor in a Musical when playing the role at Actors’ Playhouse in Miami. He also worked on Broadway in Shogun: The Musical, CATS and West Side Story. A graduate of Julliard, Mr. Sebek also coaches voice in New York City and has performed across the country in numerous plays and musicals, including the National tour of Song and Dance. Starring opposite Mr. Sebek is CCP soprano Nicole Bégué Hackmann (Les Miserables, My Fair Lady).

The King and I has captured the hearts of millions with its charming story of the British governess brought into the court of Siam to tutor the King's many children. This unique love story is set to one of the most glorious, unforgettable scores ever written, including such favorites as "Shall We Dance," "Getting to Know You," "Hello Young Lovers" and "I Whistle a Happy Tune." The King and I originally opened on Broadway in 1951, and won Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Actor (Yul Brynner), and Best Actress (Gertrude Lawrence) along with other awards. The 1956 film version won Yul Brynner a “Best Actor” Oscar. 

Nationally recognized regional theater director Amy London, now a CCP resident director and Marketing Associate, makes her Tennessee directing debut with The King and I, following major career successes in New York and South Florida’s Gold Coast. “It’s a beautiful musical that deals deeply and sensitively with the cultural divide between Anna and Siam’s remarkable King — a groundbreaking figure who treasured his native Asian traditions, yet sought recognition and acceptance for Siam in the modern 19th century world,” said Ms. London. “And we’re excited to have Michigan baritone Adam Ignacio in the romantic role of ‘Lun Tha’ opposite Lindy Pendzick’s ‘Tuptim,’ further deepening the play’s multicultural resonance.”

Joining the creative team are choreographer Barbara Flaten, a specialist in Asian and Thai dance who has won numerous awards throughout her distinguished career, and scenic designer Sean McClelland, whose credits include In the Heights (Actors Playhouse), Chicago, Hairspray, Motherhood the Musical and more. Costume Designer Kathryn Wagner, assistant professor of Costume Design at Western Michigan University, makes her Playhouse debut and Cirque de Soleil staffer Ginny Adams (9 to 5) returns as lighting designer. Musical direction is by Ron Murphy.

The King and I — rated G and sponsored by Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Suites and Hampton Inn — continues through August 30. During its run it will be joined by Man of La Mancha (co-sponsored by Cumberland County Bank and Dr. Anthony Wilson) and Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash (sponsored by Stonehaus Winery), both in the intimate Adventure Theater. Currently showing is Dolly Parton's 9 to 5: The Musical (rated PG-13 and sponsored by The Conference Center at Fairfield Glade) through July 14 and Smoke on the Mountain (rated G except for that one word, sponsored by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store), through August 2. Call the box office at 484-5000 for reservations and information or visit us on the web at 

All CCP productions are made possible through sponsor support, with additional support provided by the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.