Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” will have six performances at UNM’s Popejoy Hall. The performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 20, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 21, at 8 p.m. Friday, June 22, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, June 23 and at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 24. Tickets are at www.popejoypresents.com, at ticket offices in the UNM Bookstore and at The Pit, at the UNM Fine Arts box office, or by calling 925-5858.
By David Steinberg
“The King and I” is dear to the heart of Stephanie Lo.
Lo remembers dancing at home with her sisters to the children’s parts of the famous Broadway musical.
And she has performed in two regional productions of “The King and I,” one in Dallas and the other in Akron, Ohio.
“I was an ensemble member and played Eliza in both places,” Lo said in a phone interview. “Now I’m absorbing the new details in the current production. I’m observing the different storytelling points that we want to focus on for this production.”
Since last August, Lo has had the roles of swing and assistant dance captain in the national touring company that will be at Popejoy Hall for six performances from Wednesday, June 20 through Sunday, June 24.
Lo had joined the company in October 2016 in the role of a royal court dance and one of the King’s wives. She had that role until last August.
Swing means, she said, “if someone is out sick or out with an injury then I jump into their role. It could be singing. It could be a dance role. There are eight different tracks I cover. I jump in when needed.”
As of now, Lo already knows that in Albuquerque she will take over another person’s ballet track because that person is leaving the company. “There’s a part where there are dogs and guards and where we wear masks. I’ll be one of the dogs in the ballet,” she said. “It’s in the second act, a piece of theater, a kind of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
As assistant dance captain, Lo has major duties off-stage. She must train and rehearse new members so they learn the music, the scene work, the costume changes, the props. As she put it, “the world of the show. They have about two weeks to learn everything. Hopefully we prepare them well enough that they feel confident about what they’re doing.”
Born in San Francisco, the young Lo intensively studied ballet. But changed directions. She did the dance team in high school. In college at the University of California – Irvine she did classical, conservatory-based dance, though she majored in biology.
Then Lo moved to Florida to work in greenhouses at Epcot Center and started taking jazz and ballet classes on the side.
“I decided I could go back to biology any time. So I moved to New York and to give it a shot. It was a kind of rough learning curve. I didn’t know the world of musical theater very well. I had to learn dancing and singing,” she said.
For seven years, she was an ensemble dancer in the Christmas spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.
Another regional performance she did was “The Flower Drum Song.” “I really love the show. It’s about Chinese immigrants in San Francisco. And I liked that we were performing in the Bay Area. That was a lovely memory I have of that show,” Lo said.
“The King and I” tells the story of the King of Siam and his relationship with the British schoolteacher he brings to his country to teach his wives and children.
Some of the well-known songs from the show are “Getting to Know You,” “Shall We Dance,” and “Hello Young Lovers.”
The show won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival.