The sound of Janie Dee warming up to “Hello Young Lovers” can be heard wafting across from one of the mezzanines in the stunning open-plan Curve Theatre in Leicester. It’s meet-and-greet day for the cast and crew of Paul Kerryson‘s Christmas staging of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I with brand new all-acoustic orchestrations from music director Julian Kelly (no synthetic “samplings”!).
Janie Dee has had the role of Anna Leonowens on her radar for some years now and considers it both timely and a perfect fit. The role was famously created by Gertrude Lawrence of whose singing Kurt Weill once said “she has the greatest vocal range between C and C-sharp”. Dee, though, really believes that Rodgers’ wonderful score needs singing and singing well.
She has the acting credentials in spades, of course, having won every conceivable award for her screamingly funny and deeply moving portrayal as the android Jacie Triplethree in Alan Ayckbourn’s Comic Potential in the West End and on Broadway. She talks about that and much else in this exclusive audio podcast with Edward Seckerson.
She recalls her first encounters and subsequent working relationship with the great Harold Pinter and she has plenty to say about the strengths and weaknesses of Anna Leonowens as both a naive and liberated woman of her time. Plus we have an exclusive sneak previews of two numbers from the show in rehearsal with Julian Kelly at the keyboard: “Getting to Know You” and a complete performance of “Hello Young Lovers”, a song boasting one of the most beautiful and evocative verses in all Rodgers and Hammerstein.