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BWW Interviews: Rachel York of THE KING AND I at The Music Hall At Fair Park

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak with Broadway legend, Rachel York, just minutes before her final rehearsal for THE KING AND I at Music Hall at Fair Park. Having personally seen Ms. York perform onstage in several Broadway shows, as well as the filmed productions of KISS ME KATE and VICTOR/VICTORIA, it was a joy to hear her behind-the-scenes stories and personal experiences. For more information on her performance as Anna in THE KING AND I, which officially opens Tuesday, March 24th, 2015, read my interview, below:

Rachel York in THE KING AND I at Walnut Street Theatre in 2011.

Name: Rachel York

Current Role: Anna in THE KING AND I at Dallas Summer Musicals.

Kyle Christopher West: I know you're in the middle of rehearsals for THE KING AND I, which begins previews this weekend and opens on Tuesday. How are things going?

Rachel York: We have had long days, and have a big day ahead of us, but it's all very exciting. This is a wonderful company to work with; it's really a joy to be here. We still have some costume issues to work out, but everything is finally coming together. We were rehearsing in New York in a small little studio, and now we've come to this huge, wonderful, expansive stage, so now we're just adapting. I love it!

Kyle: I know you've toured previously; have you performed in Dallas before?

Rachel York on the DVD cover for KISS ME KATE.

Rachel: Well, of course [laughs]. The first show I did here was the Broadway national tour of KISS ME KATE. It was in 2000 or 2001, I can't remember at what point in the tour we came. Later on, I came through with Michael York in CAMELOT, and I played Guinevere. Then, not too long ago, I did 101 DALMATIONS as Cruella Deville. You may remember a big poster of Cruella Deville in front of Fair Park...that was me [laughs]. I love working here; Michael A. Jenkins and everyone who works here are just incredibly welcoming and warm.

Kyle: I understand this is your second time playing Anna, correct? What is it like returning to the role?

Rachel: I did [play Anna before], at the Walnut Street Theatre [in Philadelphia]! What's wonderful this time around is that last time I played Anna, I was a new mother. [At that time], I brought all of those emotions to the role, and it was just a wonderful production. My daughter is 4 now, and I'm a little more experienced as a mother. There's a certain amount of fear, if you will, that you have for your child, no matter how brave you are as a person. [Now that my daughter and I are out of town without my husband], I've really realized the high stakes and [difficulties] that can [come of] traveling alone with your child. [In addition], going back to 1862, a woman didn't have the same kinds of rights: the fear that Anna must have embodied underneath all of her bravery must have been enormous. She didn't know what these people were going to do, or how they'd treat her son. I'm able to bring a sense of reality now - and just plain fear [laughs]! I also appreciate that our director, Glenn Casale, has restored the high-stakes of that time, the sense of reality and the danger to this [version of the show]. That's just a wonderful element to concentrate on.

Kyle: THE KING AND I opened on Broadway in 1951, and was released on film in 1956. How do you think modern audiences can relate to the story?

Rachel: I believe that Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote a perfect musical. It's a classic, which means it's timeless and it will always be appealing. It's so beautifully written.There are so many elements and layers to the story that I think there is something for everyone to find, including kids. It's an adult musical, but there are kids involved. Not to mention the score, which will just get you from the start, grabs your heart strings and pulls you along.

Kyle: When I was living in New York, I saw you (almost back to back) as Ruth in DESSA ROSE, and as Christine Colgate in DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS. Then, I was working in Boston, and I saw you as Dolly Levi in HELLO DOLLY.

Rachel: You saw HELLO DOLLY? That's amazing!

Rachel York as Reno Sweeny in the national tour of ANYTHING GOES.

Kyle: Yes! I was later working in Arizona, and you came through Phoenix on tour as Reno in ANYTHING GOES. You've played the most versatile characters possible. Are there any roles you've played that stand out as being the most interesting or most challenging?

Rachel: Oh, thank you! You know, people always ask me what my favorite role is. I got into this business because I want to walk in different people's shoes; that's my reason for being an actress. It's an education for me. So, I strive to play different roles that are meaningful, strong characters. In all honesty, I almost feel that each role that I've played [came] to me when I've needed to express that part of myself. So, each role has sort of been my favorite at that time. I know it's an easy answer in a way, but it's true. Sometimes I want to go the dramatic, serious, cathartic route. Other times I want to do something light and fun, like ANYTHING GOES. Anna offers both. She is an extremely multi-layered character in a very changing time in Siam, yet there are humor and lightness that Rodgers and Hammerstein brought to the piece. She is everything an actress wants to play in a night!

Rachel York in HELLO DOLLY
at Reagle Theatre.

Kyle: If you could create the next credit on your resume, what would that look like?

Rachel: Well, I'm probably still a smidgen too young but, eventually, I want to play Mama Rose [in GYPSY]. I'd also love to play Dolly again: she was wonderful too. Anna though, honestly...she's right up there!

Kyle: With THE KING AND I just returning to Broadway, and the possibility of a subsequent tour, would you have any interest in other opportunities to play Anna again, or will two productions fulfill your experience in the role?

Rachel: This is a role that anytime anybody asks me to play, I would love to play it; It's such a beautiful role!

Single tickets, priced from $25-$108, are now on sale online at www.DallasSummerMusicals.org, by phone at 1.800.514.ETIX (3849), and at The Box Office, 5959 Royal Lane, Suite 542 in Dallas, TX. Season subscribers and other patrons who have questions about their tickets can call The Box Office at 214.691.7200. Groups of 10 or more receive a 15% discount, priority seating, and many more benefits. Please call 214.426.GROUP (4768) or email Groups@DallasSummerMusicals.org.



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From This Author - Kyle West

Kyle Christopher West is obsessed with the arts. Growing up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Kyle trained as a gymnast and dancer where he performed across the East Coast in productions of West Side Sto... (read more about this author)


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