Lakeview High School senior Caroline Oster portrays Anna in the Lakeview Community Players’ production of “The King and I.”

Lakeview High School senior Caroline Oster portrays Anna in the Lakeview Community Players’ production of “The King and I.”

Photo by Deb Jacques

‘The King and I’ to play at Lakeview this month

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published February 17, 2020

 Jessica Mallet portrays Lady Thiang in the musical, with performances Feb. 21, 22, 28 and 29.

Jessica Mallet portrays Lady Thiang in the musical, with performances Feb. 21, 22, 28 and 29.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Playing the king in the production is Andre Dilworth.

Playing the king in the production is Andre Dilworth.

Photo by Deb Jacques


ST. CLAIR SHORES — For Caroline Oster, it’s the chance to play the biggest role she’s ever taken on in her senior year.

For Cody Pichierri, it’s the chance to hang out with friends.

For Andre Dilworth, it’s the opportunity to learn from a classic production.

No matter their original intentions, the cast of more than 70 performers in the Lakeview Community Players’ version of “The King and I” has come together to transport the audience around the world in less than three hours.

Showing at Lakeview High School’s Schaublin Auditorium at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 and 22, at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 29, this year’s Lakeview community musical is a production that hasn’t been performed on that stage in 30 years.

“All the leads this year are doing really well,” said Oster, a senior at Lakeview High School who is playing Anna in the musical. “Andre (Dilworth), the king, we work really well together.

“It’s really good that I like who I’m working with. We have a lot of chemistry.”

“Musicals have always been close to my heart,” said Dilworth, a 2017 graduate of Lakeview High School. “Being able to express myself in a different way is good for the soul.”

Music and drama director Louise Veltri said that in the decades that the Lakeview Community Players have been putting on annual musicals, they have only performed “The King and I” one other time. The group spans generations, and she said that one of this year’s producers actually took part in that production 30 years ago.

The annual musical is open to students in fourth grade up to adults, or as choreographer Marian Wendell joked, “fourth grade to me!”

Participants all have some connection to Lakeview Public Schools, whether it be as a student, graduate, resident, staff member or family of staff. This year’s production has a cast of more than 70, plus 38 participants in the pit orchestra, the largest musical pit they’ve ever had, Veltri said.

Wendell said that there are participants who have been friends for decades after first meeting onstage when they were in high school.

“It’s very family-oriented,” she said. “It’s kind of (a) tradition. There are quite a few who start in fourth grade and go all the way through.”

“People come back who were in the program,” bringing children to the production or being part of the crew, Veltri said.

“The King and I” is a production that Veltri said she can remember seeing growing up, so she knows it will resonate with different generations in the audience. Getting youths to step away from screens and into a story come to life before their eyes “is a treat,” she said.

Dilworth said he was excited to dive into musical history with the production.

“Doing this is giving me a better opportunity of understanding older musicals,” he said. “The group of people that I work with, for such a small production and in a short amount of time, it’s coming together pretty well.”

This is the eighth year that John Bourlier, a senior at Lakeview High School, has participated in the community musical. He plays Kralahome, who is akin to a prime minister to the king.

“I just love acting,” he said. “It’s a ... really amazing story, and who wouldn’t want to see my amazing acting skills?”

Sophomore Rose Gutierrez, who plays Tuptim, a woman who is gifted from a neighboring kingdom to the king, said she really enjoys classic musicals.

“There’s been so much effort put in by everyone in the show,” she said, explaining that they’ve been rehearsing since November.

With a cast that includes numerous wives of the king and even more of his children, younger students like Michael Monroe, a fifth grader at Greenwood Elementary, get a chance to give acting a try.

“I really wanted to try and go somewhere in my life,” is why Monroe said he tried out for the production. He plays Prince Chulalongkorn. “I actually want to be an actor when I grow up.”

Pichierri, a fourth grader at Princeton Elementary School, actually said he just came to try out to spend more time with his friends, but his good British accent landed him the role of Louis, Anna’s son.

Greenwood Elementary School fifth grader Riley Payne, who plays Princess Ying Yaowlak, agreed that spending time with friends was a great reason to join the cast — as was the opportunity to get to use a microphone.

General admission tickets are available at the door. Lakeview’s Schaublin Auditorium is located at 21100 E. 11 Mile Road. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.