How the class of ’99 rules in ‘The King and I’

Posted on January 14, 2012 by Staff Writer

Sarah Kingsley in "The King and I"
Sarah Kingsley ’99 is performing in “The King and I” with Lyric Opera Virginia at venues in Richmond and Newport News between Jan. 20 and Jan. 29. She is cast to dance as well as sing in the chorus. Performing in the children’s chorus are Virginia Ames Tillar, age 8, and Claudia Tillar, 4, daughters of Lillie Tillar, who graduated with Kingsley in 1999. Virginia Ames has been in professional productions before and sings with the Virginia Children’s Chorus, but Claudia’s role wasn’t anticipated. At first, Lillie wasn’t sure her youngest would go through with it.

“It’s ironic that Claudia is in this because she is super shy and the casting director decided to snag her when Virginia Ames had her callbacks. … Sarah was the one who tipped me off to this because we have thought for a while it would be cool for her to be in a production with Virginia Ames,” she said.

Kingsley, a soprano, studied musical theater at Sweet Briar, taking advantage of the option to self-design her major. Musical theater was added to the College’s major offerings in 2011.

Since graduating, she has been busy in the local arts and business communities in her home city of Norfolk, Va., as a singer, volunteer and supporter of numerous organizations. In addition to several roles with Virginia Opera, her credits include singing the National Anthem at Norfolk Tides baseball games and a mayoral inauguration.

“The King and I,” the musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, is based on the story of Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher to the wives and children of the king of Siam in the 1860s. Kingsley plays one of the wives, who make up the chorus, and dances in the “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” scene. It is her first paid chorister role and her first opportunity to dance professionally.

Kingsley also is the mother of a 5-year-old son, Cole, and works full time at the Retail Alliance, where she is occasionally called upon to sing at office gatherings.

For show times and ticket information, visit