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Willmar Senior High students present 'The King and I' musical

Andrew Stadem, right, and Lily Sombke are featured as the title characters in the Willmar Senior High School production of “The King and I,” which begins at 7 p.m. tonight at the high school. Three further performances are scheduled Friday and Saturday, with a matinee Sunday. (RAND MIDDLETON | TRIBUNE)1 / 3
Cole Eischens, left, and Erica Ellingson, play Lun Tha, a scholar, and Tuptim, a lonely slave girl, and are star-crossed lovers and pawns in the stubborn King of Siam’s game. (RAND MIDDLETON | TRIBUNE) 2 / 3
The actors who comprise the kings wives and children rehearse a musical number. (RAND MIDDLETON | TRIBUNE)3 / 3

The drama department at Willmar Senior High School presents the musical “The King and I” at 7 p.m. tonight through Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday at the high school.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for those in kindergarten through 12th grade and are available at the Willmar Community Ed and Rec offices in Jefferson Learning Center or on the senior high web page.

In the 1860s the King of Siam, played by Andrew Stadem — in his attempt to bring Western culture to his country — engages Anna Leonowens, played by Lily Sombke, an attractive English schoolteacher, to teach his royal princes and princesses.

On arriving in Siam with her son, Louis (Erik Heen), she tries to allay her own fears and those of her son by whistling a tune “I Whistle a Happy Tune.” Once in the palace, Anna is shocked to learn that she and her son will not get a house of their own as had been promised her by the King.

She is also witness to the arrival of Tuptim (Erica Ellingson), brought from Burma by Lun Tha (Cole Eischens), as a gift to the King of Siam. The King is pleased with Tuptim, and turns a deaf ear to Anna’s complaints about having to live in the palace.

He then summons his 67 princes to meet Anna. After they leave, Lady Thiang (Ashley Olson) arouses Anna’s sympathy for Tuptim by explaining that Tuptim and Lun Tha are deeply in love, and that once Lun Tha returns to Burma they will never again see each other. Anna can be duly sympathetic, for she can never forget how much she had loved her husband, Tom, now dead.

Meanwhile, a crisis is developing in Siam. An agent in Singapore has discovered letters to the British describing the King of Siam as a barbarian and suggesting that Siam be made a protectorate. This information upsets Anna to no end, for despite her differences with the King, she has come to admire him and cannot tolerate his being called a barbarian. The King tells Anna of his political difficulties and advises her that Sir Edward Ramsey (Brady Newcomer) and other high-ranking English men and women are coming to visit Siam and judge for themselves. Anna suggests they be entertained in grand style, but with a European dinner and ball, and with all the Siamese princes and princesses wearing European dress.

By now Anna feels she can stay in Siam no longer, and makes preparations to return to England. But before she can leave, the King falls seriously ill. On his death-bed the King implores her to stay on in Siam, promising to meet any conditions she might impose. When the royal children join in this entreaty, Anna cannot find it in her heart to leave a country, a people and, most of all, the pupils she has come to love.

Other cast members are Cole Woltjer as Kralahome, Jacob Rubio as the Interpreter, Jack Erickson as Phra Alack, Ethan Haines as Prince Chululongkorn, Cameron Swanson as Captain Orton and Cecilia Buzzeo as Princess Ying Yaowalak.

Playing the princesses are Abby Hoffmann, Amy Linden, Daphne Barrera, Kathryn Gubrud, Mica Cruz and Patricia Cruz.

The royal dancers are Emily Ritter, Emily Skalla, Erin Rekedal, Jessica Skindelien, Joely Palmer, Madison Thaden, Maryssa Rende, Sarah Carlson and Sydney Lanning.

Playing the wives are Alexis Goeser, Carly Hulstein, Erica Boeyink, Kali Jensen, Maddie Peterson, MaQuelah Schueler, Mary Carlson, Michelle Carlson, Rhiley Schmidt, Sam U’Ren and Vicky Shin.

The priests are played by James Bakker, Jeremy Pierskalla, Logan Kortgard, Spencer Dahl and Jacob Odom.

Playing the children are Maggie Anderson, Mia Marin-Mera, Aubrey Scheuler, Massi Marin-Mera, Paul U’Ren, Ridgley Hulstein, Jonathan Rubio, Matthew Cayler, Zeke Sombke, Emily Floren and Anthony Buzzeo.

Members of the pit orchestra are Sam Bloomquist, Ethan Bos, Caleb Erickson, Olivia Gislason, Victoria Halvorson, Adam Helgeson, Kaylee Helgeson, Patrick Janning, Emilee Lowery, Emma Oswood, Karina Rice, Dan Swenson and Emilie Ziebarth

The lights and sound crew arePreston Iverson, Avery Hovland, Carson Selander, Alan Mangen, Kya Egge, Makenna Hogan, Julia Iverson, Lindsey Grabow, Spencer Enstad and Alan Mangen.

Members of the set and backstage crew are Chloe Halvorson, Shawn Mellies, Ashley J. Olson, Tristan Swenson, David Cairns, Karina Rice, Erin Vance and Tessa Engelkes.

Ashley Chavez is the student director.

Neal Haugen, Julene Haugen and Travis Michelson are the musical directors.

Kari Michelson is the choreographer and Terry Brau is the pit /lights/sound director.

Set director was Bryan Mara, art director was Jessalyn Canavan and costume director was Susie Johnson.