Alison Mahoney Whistles (And Sings) A Happy Tune

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday May 16, 2013

The King and I, the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, features some of the most popular songs the team ever written, including "Hello, Young Lovers," "I Whistle a Happy Tune," "Getting to Know You," "I Have Dreamed," "We Kiss in a Shadow," and "Shall We Dance?" Based on the novel "Anna and the King of Siam," the 1951 musical tells of the experiences of the English governess, Mrs. Anna Leonowens, who spent seven years at the Siamese Royal Court in Bangkok, teaching Western ways and culture to the king's court in the late 19th century.

The Ocean State Theatre production is directed and choreographed by Producing Artistic Director Amiee Turner, with musical direction by John Jay Espino. The cast includes Christopher Swan as The King of Siam and opera singer, Alison Mahoney in the role of Anna Leonowens. Hyemi Kim, originally from Seoul, Korea makes her OSTC debut in the role of Lady Thiang, JP Sarro returns in the role of The Kralahome and Shawna Haeji Shin, originally from South Korea, will appear in the role of Tuptim.

"It's been a great challenge," Mahoney told EDGE. "Anna is a very layered character. She has a lot of heart but she's also stern and can stand up for herself."

Mahoney also appreciates being able to sing songs she calls iconic as well as learning about how women acted in the 1860s. The children in the show have been helpful in this regard, Mahoney noted.

"I'm coming at this from a learning perspective," Mahoney said. "It's been wonderful. It's so wonderful to see what everybody brings to the table."

The Boston native attended the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music. Mahoney’s time there was transformative.

"I was performing there in high school," Mahoney remembered. "I was always in love with the arts but I couldn’t really figure out where I belonged.

"Being (at the conservatory) really opened the world to me in a way I never experienced before."

Mahoney studied opera before developing a love for musical theater. She moved to New York and appeared in several productions including The Sound of Music, Ragtime, and Anything Goes. She has also performed as a soloist in Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Jordan Hall, and The Esplanade in Boston.

Mahoney even gave a performance for Pope John Paul II during a tour of Italy.

"It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life," Mahoney said.

"I’ve learned a couple of things which have been very valuable: one is always show up on time," Mahoney said. "Two is always show up prepared, and three is to be as kind to everyone as you want them to be to you. It creates a wonderful family. When you do these shows, you have 10 to 12 days before you go in front of an audience, so we have to create a family so quickly. When you’re on time, have a good attitude, and you know your stuff, then it’s a recipe for success."

The King and I will be presented at Ocean State Theatre through May 19, 2013. Visit the website for more information and via telephone during normal box office hours by calling (401) 921-6800.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.


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