Residents will take the stage in local production of ‘The King and I’

by TaLeiza Calloway

Local theater lovers are in for a treat this weekend with an upcoming performance of “The King and I.”

GREAT Theatre will present the musical Saturday, April 27. The show will run through May 12 at the Paramount Theatre in St. Cloud. This is the first time the theater troupe will present the Broadway musical.

“The King and I” is the story of a British governess named Anna brought into the court of Siam (now Thailand) to tutor the king’s many children. Once within the royal palace, Anna and the king grow to understand one another and learn about each other’s cultures.

The show features a cast of 52 local actors ranging from age 7 through adult who were cast through open auditions. Attendees might see a few familiar faces on stage as St. Joseph residents Mark and Maria Reber are cast members. Their mother, Anita, and younger brother, Luke, are working behind the scenes as part of the crew.

“The whole family is involved,” Anita Reber said. “They love it.”

Reber said her children have been in at least 20 shows, many with GREAT Theatre.

Maria Reber has been acting for the last 10 years. It all started at the suggestion of a family friend for an audition. She hasn’t looked back.

The 19-year-old will play the role of Tuptim, one of the female leads in the musical. While she has always enjoyed singing and dancing, what draws her to acting is the opportunity to become a character.

“I like you get to play someone you’re not,” Maria said. “You get to go back to the past or a different land. It’s great.”

Even though Mark is the older sibling, he said it was sister Maria who got him interested in theater. When he saw her on stage he thought he might like to try it too. So he did.

“It’s a big family thing,” Mark said. “We’ve done a few shows together, with at least four of us in the cast and two as crew. It’s really cool.”

He plays the part of Captain Orton and opens the play by bringing Anna to the king. The 21-year-old also plays a priest in the musical.

What he likes most about performing is the rush from being on stage and working with fellow castmates.

“I like to see how they progress through the production,” he said, “and help them to be more confident in their ability to act.”

Sartell residents Allison and Travis Bunkers will make their GREAT Theatre debut this weekend. Their mother, Nancy, says they are so excited to perform Saturday.

Allison, 11, admits to being anxious about taking the stage but is happy to meet so many new people. She plays a princess in the show.

“I’m a little nervous, but I’m really excited,” Allison said. “All the actors are fun to be around, and I’ve made some new friends.”

Her younger brother, Travis, shares her excitement. The 9-year-old said it can be hard to remember cues at times, but everyone works together. He plays the role of a prince.

“The fun part is the acting,” Travis said. “I like to sing and like acting live on stage.”

The Bunkers hope to be a part of future productions. Allison, who is sixth-grader at Sartell Middle School, plans to audition for her seventh-grade musical. Travis, a third-grader at Pine Meadow Elementary School, said he’d like to be in a production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” someday.

“The King and I” is directed by Chris Brown along with assistant director Jane Odgers, music director Hillary Vermillion, choreographer Sienna Kuhn, costume designer Joanne Dorsher and set designer Dennis Whipple.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting or by calling the box office at 320-259-5463.

Breakout Box

Who:   GREAT Theatre, creating meaningful experiences for artists and audiences of all ages.
What:  The King and I
When: April 27-May 12, 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.

Where: Historic Paramount Theatre, downtown St Cloud.

General tickets:  Available online at or by phone at 320-259-5463.

[/media-credit] Maria Reber, 19 and Mark Reber, 21, both of St. Joseph, are part of the 52-member cast performing in GREAT Theatre’s production of the “King and I” at The Paramount Theatre. The siblings have been acting for years.

[/media-credit] Randy Warzecha of St. Cloud and Holly Lathe of Little Falls play the lead roles of The King and Anna Leonowens in GREAT Theatre’s upcoming production of “The King & I.” The musical opens Saturday, April 27 at the Paramount Theatre.

[/media-credit] Sartell siblings Allison and Travis Bunkers play a prince and a princess in GREAT Theatre’s production of “The King and I.” Allison, 11, attends Sartell Middle School and Travis, 9, attends Pine Meadow Elementary.



TaLeiza Calloway

TaLeiza Calloway is a professional journalist in Central Minnesota. Her byline has appeared in the St. Cloud Times and Central Minnesota Women Magazine. The Ohio native moved to Minnesota about four years ago. She joined the St. Joseph Newsleader staff as a reporter in November 2011.
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