Caesar Rodney High School's drama club will welcome patrons in the leader of Siam's palace through its musical production of "The King and I," opening Thursday.

Caesar Rodney High School’s drama club will welcome patrons in the leader of Siam’s palace through its musical production of "The King and I," opening Thursday.

Set in the late 1800s, British schoolteacher Anna Leonowens and her young son, Louis, arrive in Bangkok where Anna is to tutor the King of Siam’s sea of children. The pair is escorted by Kralahome, Siam’s prime minister, to the king’s palace, where they’ll be lodged. But that would be a direct violation of Anna’s contract. She and her son are to live in a house separate from the palace. Nevertheless, they follow Kralahome to the see the king. But the strong-willed Anna hasn’t forgotten the contract.

Used to ruling Siam with a temper and iron fist, the king is thrown a curve when he’s introduced to Anna, the first woman he’s come across who’s not afraid to stand up to him. Although these stubborn souls come from two different words, they’ll eventually learn that they’re both seeking the same thing: happiness.

After playing Mrs. Potts, a woman-turned teapot in CR’s production of "Beauty and the Beast” in 2013, Emily Walls is now challenged with showing a gamut of emotions as Anna in "The King and I."

"It’s very strange,” Walls said of the contrast between the two characters. "Last year I played Mrs. Potts in 'Beauty and the Beast,’ so I was always very happy. At the very end she was excited because she became human again.

"My character was never really angry or truly heartbroken. But she is this time."

The 18-year-old Walls, who has never been married or been to Bangkok, admits it’s been a bit of a stretch trying to convey those new emotions. She also says it’s been weird, yet fun, donning a hoop-dress costume. But it can get a little awkward when non-drama students spot her walking the halls in costume before evening rehearsals.

"I quickly reassure them that I do not wear this every day to school,” said Walls, "because I’m not feeling this look.”

Nick Potter, playing the King of Siam, isn’t crazy about his appearance in the show, either. He actually shaved his head to play the king.

"At CR, we’re very dedicated to doing the real thing and not making it look cheesy, so that’s why I have no hair," the junior said.

He knows his locks will grow back. But playing this waiting-game is a new experience for him.

"I was even born with hair," Potter added. "I was never bald before in my life. This is my first time."

While director Keith McCarthy has been a part of “The King and I” on two separate occasions with CR, this week’s show will mark his first time in the driver’s seat.

Considering "The King and I" features lyrics and music by the dynamic pair of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, McCarthy said he felt it was time to re-introduce the public to the musical masters, since the last year CR presented the show was a decade ago.

"The Rogers and Hammerstien duo is a stalwart, classic duo, and they’ve written so many pieces that are well-known,” McCarthy said. "We kind of ran away from that duo and we thought it was time to bring back another one of their productions, and here we are.”


WHAT "The King and I,” presented by Caesar Rodney High School

WHEN 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday

WHERE Caesar Rodney High School, 239 Old N. Road, Camden

INFO Visit or call 697-2161