published Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Royal connections - Visit home lands Seth Carico the lead in ‘The King and I’

The first Signal Mountain Playhouse production in which Seth Carico ever acted was a 1991 production of “The King and I.” He’s again cast in the playhouse’s third summer production of “The King and I,” which opens Saturday, July 5, but this time in the title role.

Since graduating from Baylor School in 2000, the Chattanoogan has become an internationally known opera singer with a stage presence as commanding as his bass-baritone voice. Opera News praises Carico as “powerful in both voice and bearing.”

So when word got out that the hometown son and his wife would be visiting his family in July — and he would be willing to play the King of Siam — the playhouse staff jumped at the chance.

IF YOU GO

What: “The King and I.”

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, July 5; Fridays and Saturdays July 11-12, 18-19; Thursday-Saturday, July 24-26. Gates open at 6 p.m. to set up camp chairs and picnic.

Where: Signal Mountain Playhouse, intersection of James Boulevard and Rolling Way on Signal Mountain.

Admission: $15 adults, $5 children ages 12 and younger; tickets only sold on-site.

Website: www.smph.org

“I thought it had all the right ingredients for what makes community theater so interesting,” says director Allan Ledford of Carico’s casting. “I’m a big fan and cheerleader of community theater. That the experience here sparked an interest in someone who followed it up and has had a very successful career, then comes back to where they started — I just think that’s wonderful.”

Carico joined the Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera Center in 2012 and, that same year, became a member of the ensemble at Deutsche Oper Berlin. While building a career over the last decade, he’s become particularly known for excelling in the creation of new roles or rarely performed works.

His extensive resume includes operatic roles, musical theater leads and concert soloist in performances across the United States. The Charlottesville (Va.) Daily Progress described his performance as the King of Siam there as “masterful with a voice so rich you could sink into it.”

“The King and I” is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical based on the 1944 novel, “Anna and the King of Siam” by Anna Leonowens. Anna, a British schoolteacher, was hired by King Mongkut of Siam as a governess for his numerous children. The musical is known for such beloved tunes as “Hello, Young Lovers,” “Getting To Know You,” “Shall We Dance?” and the majestic “March of the Royal Siamese Children,” in which the king parades his wives and children into the Royal Throne Room to meet Anna.

Ledford said the playhouse singers will be accompanied by a full orchestra, directed by Sandy Morris. David Wood has choreographed the show.

Dr. Jennifer Arbogast, assistant professor of music at Chattanooga State Community College, will play Anna opposite Carico.

“When we learned we were going to have such a marvelous king, we knew he needed a woman who could match him onstage,” says Anne Rittenberry, playhouse spokeswoman.

“Jennifer is a very fine actress,” agrees Ledford. “She’s lovely, and her voice is just beautiful. It’s a pleasure to listen to.”

Noah Huseman, whom playhouse patrons will remember as Winthrop in “The Music Man,” plays Anna’s son. Aida De La Cruz, who is Carico’s wife and also a professional singer, is portraying Lady Thaing. Anna Roza leads the crew creating costumes for the musical’s cast of 70, of which 46 are children.

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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