Monday, October 31, 2005

Powers reveals what makes 'King' so special

Stefanie Powers, a Hollywood native best known as the co-star of the TV series "Hart to Hart," isn't interested in answering personal questions.

The auburn-haired singer, animal-lover and multilingual president of the Kenya-based William Holden Wildlife Foundation preferred in a recent interview to talk about the musical "The King and I."

Powers plays Anna, governess to the King of Siam's brood of children, in the national tour of the Oscar Hammerstein II-Richard Rodgers musical that opens Tuesday night at the Kentucky Center. Before signing on for the U.S. tour, Powers portrayed Anna on a national tour in the United Kingdom opposite New York actor Ronobir Lahiri, who also plays the King of Siam in this touring production.

"The King and I" first opened on Broadway in 1951 with Gertrude Lawrence as Anna and Yul Brynner as the titular king. It won five Tony Awards, including best musical. A 1956 film adaptation with Brynner and Deborah Kerr won an equal number of Academy Awards.

When she isn't on the road, Powers, who turns 63 on Wednesday, lives in Los Angeles or Kenya. The world traveler has visited Kentucky several times for the Kentucky Derby. She also appeared here with "Hart to Hart" co-star Robert Wagner in the play "Love Letters."

Recently, Powers spent about 20 minutes fielding questions from The Courier-Journal. Here is an edited version of that interview.

Do you have good memories of your past Louisville visits?

Oh, yes. Very positive. We look forward to that beautiful theater. It makes a big difference for us backstage.

Any idea how many interviews you've already given for "The King and I"?

Tons and tons. I don't know how many. You know, I did this in England. I don't know what you've read, but this play was a commission. Gertrude Lawrence was a great Broadway star and she was looking for a vehicle for herself. She bought the rights to the story and commissioned Rodgers and Hammerstein to write it. … The poor thing, she had cancer while they were developing it and died shortly after it opened on Broadway. In the meantime, they had discovered this virtual unknown, Yul Brynner, who did more than 4,000 performances of "The King and I" over his lifetime.

Have you ever been to Thailand yourself?

Many times.

What is special about this touring production?

This probably is the last time that a production of this size and quality -- and having received the "Good Housekeeping" seal of approval from the Rogers and Hammerstein estate -- may be presented. We also have a particular cachet that makes this doubly unusual. This is directed by the woman (Baayork Lee) who as a child was the original Princess Ying Yaowlak, the youngest member of the cast. In addition, the choreographer (Susan Kikuchi) is the daughter of the original lead dancer, who was designated as keeper of the flame for Jerome Robbins' original choreography.

What are the defining traits of Anna in "The King and I"?

Mr. Hammerstein did an extraordinary job of research … and produced the archetypal Colonial British woman of that period. They were very specific. When I was asked to play this in England, I worked with an elocutionist from the National Theatre. … She was of Welsh parentage, born in the Far East. Her parents were in the foreign service and she was married to a British officer.

I live in a former British Colony, Kenya, and have spend a lot of time in former British colonies. … And I suppose that particular arrogance of the Empire was rather prevalent in the way they conducted themselves.

How did you prepare for the role?

The show went along with my curiosity about history. It was a happy marriage and I could intellectually adapt, but I also had to physically adapt. I had never sung operetta before so I worked with opera coaches. I have done lots of musicals but not in this register. I also worked on the posture and decorum of that time period and the ways in which she spoke. It was an interesting journey.

How does the U.S. tour compare with the English tour?

It is very different. This is a huge country and the distances are great. And the comedy (within the show) plays so much better in the United States because it was written by two Americans and it is part of the great American art form.

Is it true that you fluently speak seven languages, including Swahili, Mandarin Chinese and Polish?

I speak fluently about six. I have lost a lot of my Chinese because I don't spend time there.

What do you think is the most common misconception about you?

I don't know. I don't think about myself that much.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Orlando: Lacking any passion, production falls flat

Everybody of a certain age loves The King and I.

Just look at the gray-haired woman in front of me at the Carr Performing Arts Centre, where yet another tour of the Richard Rodgers-Oscar Hammerstein II musical opened Tuesday night. As the orchestra starts to play the first notes of its introduction to "Shall We Dance?," this buttoned-up audience member can't contain herself: She claps in delight.

I know how she feels: "Shall We Dance?" is one of the great numbers in musical theater. But what we're responding to in this version of The King and I isn't on the stage at Carr. It's the ghost of the musical that was.

This particular tour of The King and I is audio-animatronic theater, paint-by-numbers theater -- the kind of theater that faithfully reproduces what you expect to see onstage but leaves out every ounce of the heart. If all you want is to hear somebody sing Rodgers and Hammerstein's glorious songs, this King and I might do for you. But if you want to feel the passion that percolates just below the surface of this beloved musical, you'd be better off renting the film.

You can't fault the handsome production, the scarlet and gold, peacock blue and emerald of the scenic design and the elegant silks of the costumes. Instead, blame the producers for trotting out TV actress Stefanie Powers, whose Anna comes across more as an aging neighbor, always chipper but slightly out of touch, rather than the 30ish governess she's supposed to be. And blame director Baayork Lee, who played one of the smallest children in the original King and I in 1951, when she was 5, but who treats the show like a trusty but not very interesting machine. It's Chevrolet theater, not Porsche.

It's hard to imagine the casting sessions that came up with Powers, who hit her heyday 25 years ago in the TV series Hart to Hart. Surely there are appropriate roles for an attractive actress in her early 60s, despite her quavery, Glynis Johns-like voice. But Anna Leonowens was not yet 30 when she went off to work for the king of Siam, and in the fictionalized version she had a young son in tow. In Orlando, Powers could be her stage son's grandmother -- more significantly, she could be the king of Siam's mother, or maybe his maiden aunt.

Yet age is less the problem than a lack of passion -- an offhand quality that runs all the way through. It's not just that Powers fails to connect with Ronobir Lahiri, the thirty- something actor who plays the king as a goofy, petulant boy. It's that Lun Tha (the handsome-voiced Martin Sola) fails to connect with his lover Tuptim (Nita Baxani), that the king barely connects with his son, Prince Chululongkorn, and that Anna barely connects with the kids.

With so many missed connections, it's a wonder Anna gets to Siam at all.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Orlando: Powers is back and ready for a little 'Hart to Hart' with the king of Siam

Some performances of this classic musical benefit her wildlife charity in Kenya.

It's good to be king. It's better to be Stefanie Powers.

Powers is the "I" in the touring production of The King and I that opens tonight at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre; she's also the one who gets her name listed above the title in this production.

That's because Powers, 62, is someone you've heard of, very likely from the TV series Hart to Hart (1979-84) in which Powers and Robert Wagner played a jet-setting couple with a flair for solving crimes.

Powers -- real name Stefania Zofia Federkiewicz -- gets around in real life, too, with homes in Kenya, England and her native California. With this role, she follows in the footsteps of Gertrude Lawrence, Deborah Kerr, Celeste Holm, Angela Lansbury and even Marie Osmond. As Anna Leonowens, an English widow and mother of a young son, she travels to Bangkok in the 1860s to teach the numerous children of Siam's stubborn, proud ruler. Though Anna and the king frequently clash when she arrives, a mutual respect and unrequited love develops.

Question: So how long have you been touring in The King and I?

Powers: Since January. But I did it in England two years ago. I have not been around a lot in the United States. I was married to a Frenchman -- we have been divorced now -- and living outside the United States a great deal and doing a lot of work in Africa, as is my habit. It was a nice opportunity to work with the same actor [as the king] as I did in England, Ronobir Lahiri.

Q.: Musicals don't get much better than The King and I.

Powers: I think it's fair enough to say that Rodgers and Hammerstein are some of the best of the best [composers], and hardly anything they did did not have a wonderful female role. But I think this is the biggest and the best.

In actual fact, it was commissioned by Gertrude Lawrence as a vehicle for herself. She owned the rights to Anna and the King of Siam, which she then shopped around. When [Rodgers & Hammerstein] were interested in doing it, they joined forces. But poor Miss Lawrence was suffering from cancer and during the first six months of the play's run she died.

Q: The "Shall We Dance?" number is the stuff of a lot of little girls' fantasies -- Anna waltzing around with the king in that beautiful gown.

Powers: Do you know how much it weighs? Would you like to have it on? Oh my God. It's a monster of a costume. You are wearing pantaloons and everything underneath, and you have to have the corsetry to be able to hold up the skirt. It is probably much more fun to watch.

Q: Do you have a favorite number in the show?

Powers: My favorite number is not one that I do, but it's beautiful.

Q: Is it "Something Wonderful"?

Powers: Yes. That is the showstopper. Truly, it's a pleasure to be doing a play where you are not only privileged to do a work of such magnificence from start to finish but also to be bringing it to whatever new audiences we have, the children, certainly, and other people who somehow managed to miss it. . . . This is the great American art form.

Q: Have you been singing a long time?

Powers: I have been doing a lot of work in the theater in England. My first big break was as a dancer who would sing a little, but I can't get my leg up that high [anymore]!

Q: Some performances on this tour have benefited the William Holden Wildlife Foundation in Kenya, which you founded. Can you talk about what the foundation does?

Powers: The foundation works in concert with a game ranch. It was established to carry out the concept of backing up specific-animal preservation with education. On one hand, you can do the work of preserving the animals with captive-breeding programs, but if you don't educate people for the long term, the minute your back is turned, the animals will be gone. So the education part of it is crucial to any long-term preservation concept. I spend whatever time I can there.

Friday, October 21, 2005

TV on DVD By R.D. Heldenfels

I was not a fan of Hart to Hart when the romantic adventure ran on ABC from 1979 to 1984. But I enjoyed the audio commentary on the new DVD of Hart to Hart: The Complete First Season (Sony, premiere movie and 22 episodes, six discs, $49.95).

Executive producer Tom Mankiewicz and stars Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers offer a relaxed and conversational look at the show during commentary on the premiere. They joke about the plots and dialogue, offer up trivia (Sugar Ray Robinson was Wagner's first choice to play servant Max) and have such a good time, it makes the show seem better.

The DVD also includes a short feature on the making of the show.

Timeless musical comes to Strand

It's a timeless image. A woman dressed in a flowing hoop skirt being flung around a massive ballroom by a barefoot, bald, powerful man to the sounds of a symphony orchestra, the phrase "Shall we dance?" lingering on their lips.

For many fans of musical theater, "The King and I" resonates today as much as it did during the show's initial run in 1951. Now, more than half a century after the show first floored Broadway audiences, Myrtle Beach theater-goers have an opportunity to see this tale of cultural melding, gender clashes and the romance of mutual respect, tonight through Sunday at The Palace Theatre.

Stefanie Powers, known for her role as the saucy Jennifer Hart opposite Robert Wagner in "Hart to Hart," stars as Anna Leonowens, a British governess sent in the 1860s to educate the children of the King of Siam. "The show stands on its own as one of the most exceptional pieces of musical theater ever written," Powers said via phone from a tour stop in Florida. "One must consider these extraordinary pieces from the golden age of musical theater as a true American art form, rather than revivals. They are among the best stage pieces ever created."

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein were revolutionaries in the world of musical theater, whose shows have exhibited unusual staying power in the fickle world of the stage. "Before 'Showboat' musicals were written around the songs, but Rodgers and Hammerstein came up with their own formula, writing the story first and associating the songs with the story points," said Gregory London, an assistant professor in Coastal Carolina University's Theater department. "Musicals before that were more like pastiches or comedy reviews where there would be a juggler, a dog act and some popular songs sung individually, true to the medium's burlesque origins."

And once Rodgers and Hammerstein's formula hit New York audiences, there was no turning back. "They had what was known as the 'RH' factor, and it was something that everyone wanted to emulate on Broadway," London said. "There was one time where Rodgers and Hammerstein had four musicals running at the same time on Broadway: 'The King and I,' 'Carousel,' 'Oklahoma' and 'South Pacific' were all hits all at the same time, truly a testament to their popularity. No other composing team has ever achieved that."

Far from fluffy fare, Rodgers and Hammerstein managed to address serious issues in their work. "The story of 'The King and I' is essentially about cultural imperialism," London said. "What do we do about a show that's primarily racist, a show that says you need to drop your own culture and customs and do exactly what the English white people tell you to do? It's a prime example of how British imperialism polluted many cultures."

As Leonowens begins to educate the children of the King in British manners, culture and language, she clashes with the no-nonsense monarch (a role made famous by the chrome-domed Yul Brynner). "Rodgers and Hammerstein were fantastic humanists and pre-feminists as well," London said. "They wrote very strong female characters like Anna Leonowens. But Anna has her flaws, also. Because the King is a non-white, non-English speaking person, she is much more assertive and aggressive. She would have had a much more difficult time standing up to the King of England."

But once a genuine admiration is established between them, both characters soften considerably. "There's a moment where Anna is dressing and the King spies her bare shoulder upon entering her room, which he finds very erotic," Powers said. "That signals a change in their relationship. Then, after the party that evening, as they relax and after she's had a few glasses of wine, an intimate mood is created."

The moment that follows is fraught with tension and ardor, though both characters do their best to contain it. Instead of leaping in to one another's arms, they release their passion in the whirlwind polka that accompanies the showstopper "Shall We Dance?" Powers and her co-star, Ronobir Lahiri, dazzle the audience with their spinning number, made more difficult by the fact that Powers' gown is an exact replica of the original that Gertrude Lawrence graced the stage in. The dress is six feet in diameter and weighs fourteen pounds.

The logistics of the rest of the show are tremendous as well. With more than 70 people in the cast, simply getting everyone to the next venue is a challenge. But director Baayork Lee, who played a princess in the original stage production with Lawrence and Brynner, has his hands full with this grand and technically formidable show. "Given the demands of the production and the expense of it, this may be the last time this show tours for many years," Powers said.

Powers believes the reason behind the show's longevity lies within the duo that created it. "The lyrics, the libretto, the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein is still timeless, even 50 years after its creation," Powers said. "You come out of the theater humming the tunes, and I don't know any show over the last 20 years that's done that."

Powers hopes to reach not only those who are longtime fans of the show, but younger people with less exposure to musical theater. "I think that what they need are positive theater experiences and good material to see," Powers said.

Myrtle Beach, SC - Stefanie Powers stars in 'The King and I' at Palace

The Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical "The King And I," starring Stefanie Powers, is at 8 tonight; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday at The Palace Theatre at Broadway at the Beach.

The Tony Award-winning musical features ornate sets and costumes. Powers headlines this production featuring songs such as "Hello, Young Lovers," "I Whistle A Happy Tune," "Shall We Dance?" and "Getting To Know You."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

SPCA To Hold 3rd 'Top Hat & Tails' Gala

Briarcliff Manor, NY - The SPCA of Westchester will hold its exciting third annual Top Hat & Tails fundraiser this year on Saturday, November 19, from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. at the Tarrytown House in Tarrytown, NY.

The elegant black-tie event, for humans and their canine companions, hopes to raise $250,000 to help support the SPCA’s life saving animal rescue programs including: cruelty investigations, shelter and rehabilitation of abused and abandoned dogs, cats and horses, low cost veterinary services and community outreach programs. The SPCA receives no federal, state, or county funds, and relies solely on the financial support of people who care about the welfare of animals.

The Trotta family of Mount Kisco will be honored at the event for their continued investment of time and funding to the SPCA. The family includes Bonnie, Tom, James and Johnny Trotta and their two dogs Chewy and Angel, along with Peter Guernsey, Katama and Jay Eastman and their children Merrill and Jack. They will receive the “John Beach Memorial Award,” named for John Beach, a 30-year SPCA Board member who passed away last April.

“I got involved with the SPCA because of John Beach,“ said Bonnie Trotta. “For John, it was an honor to be able to help the less fortunate. He cared and he gave, and he asked others to do the same. I am honored only to be trying to stay in his footsteps.”

With her prominent and generous parents as role models, Bonnie Trotta learned about philanthropy at an early age, and since became a volunteer and continued benefactor for local hospitals and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Westchester. Her husband Tom, who lost his parents at a young age, helped to support his siblings and ran several family businesses. He later became a drug and alcohol abuse counselor.

“Other than loving animals and having dogs, cats, chickens snakes, hamster, guinea pigs, fish and hermit crabs as pets, my biggest association with the SPCA is our dog, Rocky, that we adopted there,” added Ms. Trotta.

The “Top Hat and Tails” Gala will also feature noted "Horse Whisperer" Tim Hayes and his horse Austin, as well as pet photographer, Liza Marguilles, to capture a portrait of people and their pets. “It’s going to be a great evening of fun and entertainment for both two-legged and four-legged party goers,” said Shannon Laukhuf, Director of Development, “In fact, we’re not sure who enjoys the evening more – the people or their pets!”

The cocktail hour will be followed by a formal sit-down dinner for humans, doggie delicacies from Cleo's Barkery for canines, and both silent and live auctions with fabulous items such as exciting trips and excursions, golf outings, jewelry, fine dining gift certificates, and more. Flowers are being donated by Michael George of Hybrid.

Westchester’s favorite weatherman, Joe Rayo from News 12 Westchester will be the Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

The honorary Celebrity Committee includes Catherine Crier, Stefanie Powers and Betty White. More than 50 volunteers work to make the event a success each year and many corporations lend their support as well.

“This year promises to be even more exciting than last year – it’s a special evening where people are able to share a gala evening with their best four-legged friends,” said Lisa Rockefeller, Benefit Event Committee Chair. “It’s also our biggest fundraising event of the year, and we’re hoping to exceed our goal so that we can continue to provide not only shelter for these animals, but also a safe haven from abusive situations.”

Individual tickets are $250 and sponsor tickets range from $1,000 for a “Patron” with two seats and special recognition in the Gala journal to $15,000 for a “Best in Show” with a table for 10 seats in the VIP section, full page color Gala journal ad, and logo on sponsor credit display. For more information on purchasing tickets, please call (914) 941-2894, ext. 19.

Founded in 1883, the SPCA of Westchester is a not-for-profit humane organization chartered as the primary animal cruelty prevention and intervention agency for Westchester County. Each year its agents investigate over 1,000 cases of suspected animal abuse, resulting in steps to correct the problem if evidence of cruelty is found.

Currently, the shelter is equipped to house over 150 dogs and cats, and its Simpson Spay/Neuter Clinic, offers low-cost spay/neuter surgeries and vaccinations in an effort to help keep pets healthy. Each year the animal shelter adopts more than 800 homeless companion animals into loving new homes and reunites another 300 lost pets with their families. The SPCA never euthanizes an animal except in cases of terminal illness, extreme aggression or the inability to maintain a reasonable quality of life in a shelter environment.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Hart to Hart - More Details and Artwork for Season 1

This is my boss: Jonathan Hart (Robert Wagner); a self-made millionaire. He's quite a guy. This is Mrs. H. (Stefanie Powers) She's gorgeous. She's one lady who knows how to take care of herself. By the way, my name is Max (Lionel Stander). I take care of both of them - which ain't easy. 'Cause when they met, it was murder.

Created by bestselling novelist Sidney Sheldon, HART TO HART: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON stars Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, a fabulously rich couple who always seems to become entangled in an exotic blend of mystery, intrigue and adventure. Accompanied by their loyal servant Max (Lionel Sander), the smart and sexy twosome jet set around the world, where they solve cases ranging from espionage to murder, in 22 breezy episodes that mix excitement and danger with just a dash of romance.

Sony announced last month, that Hart to Hart - The Complete First Season will be available for DVD on October 25th, 2005. Sony has now sent me more artwork for Hart to Hart - The Complete First Season. The back cover shows the below extras will be featured on the DVD:

* Commentary for Hart to Hart Pilot Episode

* Featurette: The Hart of Season One - Includes Interviews with Sidney Sheldon - Creator; Leonard Goldberg - Executive Producer; Tom Mankiewicz - Write/Director; Robert Wagner - "Jonathan Hart"; Stefanie Powers - "Jennifer Hart"

Hart to Hart - The Complete First Season is available for pre-order at Amazon, for only $34.96.

Tallahassee - Stefanie Powers a natural as charming Anna

Neither geographic distance nor the detachment of telephonic communication can mask the magnitude of actress Stefanie Powers' considerable charisma.

Speaking from her hotel room on the opposite coast recently, Powers held forth with eloquence, humor, passion and impeccable diction on the art of acting, the Golden Era of musical theater, the perils of living in a disposable society, her passion for wildlife conservation and her concern about the fate of the planet.

Powers is currently wowing audiences playing a character very much like herself - the outspoken, upright, intelligent, thoughtful, charming and deeply compassionate governess Anna in the touring production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved classic "The King & I." The show visits the Civic Center for a two-night run next week.

"'The King & I' comes from that glorious golden period of American theater when one could say the art form of musical theater was created," Powers said. "We must regard these works in the proper perspective, as pieces of classical American theater. They set the standard for what musical theater is all about."

There are few works in the music-theater canon as classic and beloved as those of Rodgers and Hammerstein. And "The King & I" is one of the most brilliant and emotionally alluring of the duo's collaborations.

"What is better than 'The King & I'?" Powers asked. "It's set in a very romantic time.... We've lost that by virtue of all this reality-TV junk fouling the airwaves. It's lowered our expectations of what romance should be."

Those most familiar with Powers through her role as glamorous, globe-trotting detective Jennifer Hart in the popular TV series "Hart to Hart" might be surprised by her fervor for musical theater. But the red-haired Renaissance woman began her professional career at the age of 15 as a dancer for legendary choreographer Jerome Robbins on the set of "West Side Story."

Powers went on to amass an impressive catalog of credits that includes feature films, television series, mini-series, stage productions and even home videos on horseback riding and exercise routines.

As comfortable as she is on stage and before the camera, one would think Powers was born to be an actress. Not so, she said.

"I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a child," Powers said. "It was a natural extension of my love for animals, and it was also inspired by the fact that my stepfather raised raceÂhorses. The vet would come every morning to the stables, and I decided that's what I wanted to do, too."

Nowadays, Powers' love of living creatures finds a powerful outlet in her work with the William Holden Wildlife Foundation, founded to honor the memory of the late actor who shared her life for nearly a decade before his death in 1981. Powers spends a significant portion of her time at the Mount Kenya Game Ranch, the foundation's wildlife sanctuary in Africa.

"We have an ongoing educational program in Kenya for the locals to familiarize them with the need for conservation and preservation and what that means to them personally in their everyday lives," Powers said. "These are people whose traditional lifestyle has come to an end. They're in transition between the tribal lifestyle and the modern age. The old ways of farming and patterns of behavior can no longer be sustained.

"We offer alternatives to destroying the habitats of animals and humans in rural areas. We are seeing results, but they're very subtle."


What: "The King & I," starring Stefanie Powers

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday

Where: Civic Center, 505 W. Pensacola St.

Cost: $48, $42 and $32

Phone: 222-0400 or (800) 322-3602

Hart to Hart on DVD

Hart To Hart: The Complete First Season: The six-disc set has 23 episodes of Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as a crusading couple who defy danger and spark romance. Fullscreen with extras including a featurette.

A Hart to Hart Reunion

The Insider -

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

DVD: McLintock (Special Collector's Edition)

Product Details

Actors: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Patrick Wayne, Stefanie Powers, Jack Kruschen...
Directors: Andrew V. McLaglen
Format: color, widescreen
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Studio: Paramount Home Video
DVD Release Date: October 11, 2005
Run Time: 127 min
DVD Features:
Available Subtitles: English
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English
Commentaries by Leonard Maltin, Frank Thompson, Maureen O'Hara, Stefanie Powers, Michael Pate, Michael Wayne and Andrew McLaglen
Special Introduction by Leonard Maltin
The Batjac Story: The Legacy of Michael Wayne
Maureen O'Hara and Stefanie Powers Remember McLintock!
A Good Ol' Fashion Fight
2 Minute Flight School
Wrap Up with Leonard Maltin
Corsets: Don't Leave Home Without It
Original Theatrical Trailer
Batjac Teaser

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Stefanie Powers Raises Funds for Hurricane-Affected Animals During King and I Tour

Actress and conservationist Stefanie Powers, who currently stars as Mrs. Anna in the national touring company of The King and I, has been using her nightly performances during the play’s run at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle to raise funds for organizations that are aiding the animals stranded and abandoned by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Joined onstage by her dog Bounce, Powers’ nightly post-show plea for Bounce’s “furry friends,” has netted an average of $2000 per show, which she will match dollar for dollar at the end of the Seattle engagement and present to Noah’s Wish and the American Humane Society.

Powers, who has long combined an acting career with her life-long and highly recognized work as a dedicated advocate for animals, will tour in The King and I until mid-November. She has previously appeared in an Australian production of Lady Windemere's Fan helmed by Sir Peter Hall and in stagings of Annie Get Your Gun, My Fair Lady, Applause and others. She also appeared on the West End in Love Letters opposite Robert Wagner, her co-star on "Hart to Hart."

As co-founder and president of the William Holden Wildlife Foundation for its 20-plus year history, she has melded habitat conservation with animal preservation through an education program currently serving over 10,000 students a year in Kenya, making the late actor’s dream of education programs that reach out to Kenya’s population, particularly its children, a reality. She has collaborated on species survival projects here in the U.S. and in many other countries and is an advisor to Jaguar Motor Company’s jaguar conservation program as well as its parent Ford Motor Company’s efforts to save the wild mustang.

Some of Powers' TV work will soon be available on a forthcoming DVD release of “Hart to Hart: The Complete First Season,” including newly-filmed commentary. The DVD will be available October 25 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.