Local dancers among ‘The King and I’ cast

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 20, 2000


Saturday, May 20, 2000

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – When performers for the Musical Arts Guild’s production of "The King and I" take the stage today, there will be three familiar faces among the dancers, singers and actors.

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Ironton dancers Katie Huff, Rachel Langer and Elliot Cunningham each earned spots in the cast for the Rogers and Hammerstein classic about a young governess’s experiences as the tutor for the children of the King of Siam.

Miss Huff, 16, a sophomore at Ironton High School, said preparing for the performance took more than a few long nights since production began Feb. 25.

Nightly rehearsals began at 6 p.m.

"One night I came home (exhausted) from practice, I looked at my clock and it was 12:55 (a.m.)," she said.

Miss Huff is not a newcomer to the theater world. She has been a cast member in 10 plays, including "The Sound of Music" and "My Fair Lady."

"I love to do plays and I love doing theater," she said. "Whenever I have an opportunity to try out for a play, I go for it."

Since she was not familiar with "The King and I," she decided to take a chance to learn more about the Broadway classic.

When the cast was announced, Miss Huff found she had a few friends on the list.

Elliott Cunningham, 13, of Ironton, a seventh-grader at Rose Hill Christian Academy in Ashland, Ky., also picked for the cast, performed with Miss Huff in "The Sound of Music."

He also is a veteran performer.

Cunningham’s passion for stage peforming came early, he said. Making his stage debut at age 9, Cunningham has since been in a total of eight plays.

He picked "The King and I" because of the boss, not the story line.

"I wanted to do this play because I really like the director (Danny Ray)," Cunningham said. "Danny’s really fun to work with."

He has other idols, too, including Tony Award-winning actress Bernadette Peters, whom he met in New York on the set of "Annie Get Your Gun."

"I bought (Miss Peters) a rose before the performance and gave it to her at the stage door, and she gave me a hug and signed my program," Cunningham said.

Also featured in "The King and I" is dancer Rachel Langer, 20, of Ironton. Miss Langer, a student at OUSC, also is a stage veteran, earning roles in "Fiddler on the Roof," "Guys and Dolls" and "Anything Goes."

Dancing is more than a hobby for her, she said. It began with a love for everything Hollywood.

"When I was little, I loved the movies," Miss Langer said. "I haven’t done any musicals in the past year, so I wanted to do them again. I kind of missed doing musicals."

All three young performers plan to continue their theater work after their work on "The King and I," but none plan to pursue acting or dancing as careers.

The final performance of "The King and I" will be 2 p.m. today at Huntington East High School, which is located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 29th Street.

Tickets can be picked up one hour before the show and are $10.