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Marine dons hoop skirts as Anna in ‘King and I'
Angela Peters was trying to stop crying after seeing her fiance leave on deployment when she got a phone call saying she had been selected to portray Anna in Yuma Community Theater's production of “The King and I.”
Peters, a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps, said she had tried out for the play after learning she would not be deployed, too.
“I wanted to deploy. So I was rewarding myself with the play.”
And she figured it would help fill the empty evening hours while her fiance, Capt. Brad Shirley, is in Afghanistan.
It will be a little bittersweet, though, she said, as Shirley won't be able to see her perform. And the contract for the screenplay written by Rodgers and Hammerstein forbids taping of the production.
The musical opens Friday and will be presented at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Jan. 29 at Gila Ridge High School Auditorium, 7150 E. 24th St. The shows on Jan. 21 and 22 will be completely captioned for the hearing impaired.
Tickets at $20, $10 and $5 are available at www.yumacommunitytheater.org or by calling 919-4876. They also will be sold at the door.
While she had auditioned for Anna, Peters said she really hadn't been particular what role she would have in the production, whether performing or helping with sets and backstage.
“I checked every box. I know it involves a lot of effort by people coming together.”
Performing is something she has enjoyed from a young age, growing up in Wisconsin. And it's been a family tradition.
“My parents met in a production of ‘Can Can.' I grew up singing in church and been in several musicals starting in grade school.”
When she learned she would be staying behind to carry out her military administrative duties, she decided to try out for “The King and I.”
“It's something I've always liked doing. And I figured it would help fill my schedule.”
Playing Anna Leonowens, the widowed British schoolteacher brought in 1862 by King Mongkut to Siam (now Thailand) to westernize and teach his wives and children, has had other benefits as well.
Peters related how after the rehearsal last week, a little girl who plays a princess gave her a kiss on her check.
“The kids telling me they love me ... that's been a great escape. It's given me what I needed. It's been nice to have a connection outside the Marine Corps. I love playing a schoolteacher. I get to love the children without having to discipline them.”
At one point, though, she said, director Fred Brown told her she was being too nice for a school marm and to channel some of her Marine officer attitude into the role.
Peters said she had seen the movie about 10 years ago with her mother, and the cast watched it to capture the richness of the movie with its elaborate sets and costumes.
In fact, Peters was able to lend a hand with the costumes that include several huge hoop skirts.
Her father is a Civil War re-enactor, an activity that has become a “family thing” for which Peters happened to have a couple of hoop skirts to contribute to the cause for the musical.
Brown said the show is costing about $40,000 for the sets, costumes, use of the script and rent of the school auditorium. The production is being made possible through a grant from the Yuma Community Foundation in collaboration with the Sturges Charitable Trust.
It has a cast of 50, including a dozen children who play the king's offspring. Along with the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, the local performance features a ballet choreographed by Cindy Turrentine.
“It has three love stories,” Brown said. “It's a four-hankie show.”
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6853. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/jlobeck or on Twitter at @YSJoyceLobeck.