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This king rules!

The King and IVillage Theatre’s The King and I is a musical treat

I couldn’t stop smiling during this infectious, affecting production. Afterwards, I couldn’t stop singing, and my 11-year-old “date” couldn’t stop saying, “That was great!” Here is a small regional theater, tucked away in old Issaquah, quietly producing some of the best musical theater around. The Village Theatre’s The King and I is simply wonderful.

The production values are terrific. Elaborately Eastern sets and lavish costumes evoke images of Siam so richly detailed you can almost smell the incense. But what really shines here are the actors. Michael K. Lee is a powerful King, handsome and conflicted and totally believable. I kept closing my eyes to see if Beth DeVries really sounded as much like Julie Andrews as I imagined. Besides her gorgeous voice, DeVries is a wonderful actress.

As immensely singable as Rogers and Hammerstein’s other masterpiece The Sound of Music, this is a real treat for kids about age 8 and up. My 11-year-old friend thought the “play within a play” was a tad scary, and was put off by the King’s cavalier attitude towards slavery and ultimately his (peaceful) death. But the plot’s parallels to The Sound of Music make it an understandable and familiar story at heart: A plucky English school teacher won’t be pushed around by her powerful male employer; mischievous yet loveable kids test her limits but ultimately come to love her. You will love her, too. Your kids will also enjoy the dozen or so child actors that play the King’s children.

The King and I runs through Jan. 6 at the Village Theater in Issaquah, a satisfyingly small theater with great views from ‘most all seats. There is a cry room for restless kids; must be 4 years old or older to attend. The show moves to the Everett Performing Arts Center through Jan. 27. For ticket info, visit www.villagetheatre.org.

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