A couple of princes

Published 9:09 pm Monday, January 16, 2012

John Yeates Middle School eighth-graders Brendan Parker, far left, and Colin Hare, third from left, landed parts as royal princes in Lyric Opera Virginia’s production of “The King and I.” Brendan and Colin performed at the Sadler Center in Virginia Beach and will perform in the show in Richmond and Newport News.

Colin Hare and Brendan Parker are no strangers to the stage.

At John Yeates Middle School, both boys have starred in school musicals and chorus productions.

But this month they got a whole new perspective on performing in front of an audience as they made their big-stage debut as two sons of the King of Siam in Lyric Opera Virginia’s production of “The King and I.”

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“It’s a wonderful opportunity because we get to do a whole bunch of things,” Colin said.

Although the King of Siam has dozens of children, Colin and Brendan, who are the only students from Suffolk in the play, are royal princes, which means they have more time on stage.

The boys, both 13, auditioned for the play this summer, encouraged by their chorus teacher at John Yeates.

Brendan’s mother, Brandy Parker, said she thought it was a great idea for her son to try out.

“It’s just a really cool opportunity,” she said. “It’s really exciting for them.”

“We were excited for him to have the opportunity to actually see what the real part in the play would be like,” Betty Hare, Colin’s mother, said.

For the audition, the boys had to sing an excerpt from “Getting to Know You,” a song from the play.

Colin said singing in front of the director was intimidating.

“Since this is my first one, it was pretty nerve-wracking because I didn’t know what to expect,” he said.

Despite some nervousness, both boys did great and earned their parts. In fact, Colin was even named the understudy for the part of Louis, Anna’s son.

Even though he’s done plays in school, Brendan said, being in “The King and I” is a new world.

“It’s way different,” he said. “These (type of plays) are thought up with everything.”

Brendan said one of the biggest differences is costuming.

“The clothing is so neat,” he said. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

In the play, the boys perform alongside actors who have performed on Broadway, such as Kevin Gray, who plays the king.

Brendan said performing with veterans of the stage made him a little nervous, but he loved hearing their feedback.

“They teach you a lot of new stuff, and it helps you out,” he said.

The boys also have each other’s support.

Brendan said Colin’s company was especially helpful during the auditions.

“As long as you have a friend there, it’s pretty good,” he said.

“I’m just happy that Brendan’s in it with me because I wouldn’t know what to do without him,” Colin said.

The boys debuted in the play in Virginia Beach Jan. 6 and 8. The play also has performances Friday and Sunday at the Landmark Theater in Richmond and Jan. 27 and 29 at the Ferguson Center in Newport News.

For more information, visit http://www.lyricoperavirginia.org/thekingandi.php.