Photo by Mark A. Philbrick
Gordy Villavini stars as the King of Siam, and Lara Johnson stars as Anna in SCERA's production of "The King and I."

OREM — Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's musical classic not only won the Tony Award as best musical when it premiered on Broadway in 1952 but also received a Tony for best musical revival in 1996.

The timeless production for the SCERA is directed by Kathryn and Howard Little.

"I like this show — a lot," Kathryn Little said. "I played Anna about 15 years ago with Robert Peterson and loved the role. It's a very good story. We sometimes look at Rodgers and Hammerstein as the old war horses of composing teams, but theaters perform their work repeatedly because they are wonderful theater. "

As the play unfolds, the widowed Anna brings her young son to Siam. The strong-willed king is considered a barbarian by outsiders and asks Anna to help change his image. She is equally strong-willed. Both keep a firm grip on their traditions and values while eventually gaining respect and a unique love for each other.

"The story has so many wonderful things about it," Kathryn says. "These people who come together from very different places try to understand each other, and they succeed to some extent — at least succeed to where there is progress on both parts. It has some very strong things to say and is visually and musically entertaining."

Some of the songs have become beloved standards, including "I Whistle a Happy Tune," and "Hello Young Lovers."

The production boasts a cast of 70. Many are real-life family members, with the youngest performer just 3 months old.

Lara Johnson is Anna. "She nailed the role," Little said, "as did Gordy Villavini who plays the king. They have great chemistry and it is fun to see them perform together."

Other featured roles include Erin Lee as Tuptim, Nephi Garcia as Lun Tha, Porter Leach as Anna's son Louis, Melissa Brinkerhoff as Lady Thiang, Rick Priddis as Kralahome and Daniel Logan as Prince Chululongkorn. The grand set designed by Susan Jaussi features a Siamese temple in reds and golds.

If you go ...

What: The King and I

Where: SCERA Shell Outdoor Amphitheater, 699 S. State, Orem

When: 8 p.m., June 6-21

Cost: $12-$14/adults, $10-$12/children, seniors

Phone: 225-2569