I received tickets for this production of The King and I to facilitate this review; however, all opinions are my own.
Let me just start off saying, I’m generally not a huge fan of a lot of “Golden Age of Broadway” productions. I usually find them a bit boring and outside of one or two numbers, generally forgettable. That was not the case with The King and I. I loved it. In fact, I loved all of it, even the ballet portion that seems to be present in all Rodgers and Hammerstein shows.
The cast does an absolutely fabulous job with the lead actress Laura Michelle Kelly, playing British schoolteacher Anna Leonowens, being a particular standout. She has a light silvery tone, just perfect for her character’s often gentle demeanor. Another standout is Jose Llana, who plays the King. He has fantastic comedic timing and a very expressive face.
For those unfamiliar with the musical, it takes place in the 1860s in Siam (now Thailand), and the King of Siam is looking for a teacher for his many children. Anna Leonowens, a widow from Britain, and her young son are sent from Singapore to teach the King’s children.
Anna quickly finds out that the King, and in fact most of Siam, believe women are below men when it comes to their place in society. Anna works hard to convince the King that even as a woman, she can know just as much as any man. The King slowly warms to her and is eventually swayed to revisit his views on women and respect.
The show has some beautiful and elaborate sets. The first scene is especially memorable, with a beautifully painted sunrise behind a large dock with a large moving steamship. The colors are vivid and warm, evoking the often romanticized visions many have of the Far East.
The choreography was fun, displaying many steps I’ve seen in documentaries and shows about Thailand. It was interesting to see some of these complicated looking maneuvers in person. The score includes the beloved classics “Getting To Know You,” “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello Young Lovers,” “Shall We Dance” and “Something Wonderful.” The chorus and minor characters all do an excellent job supporting the leads; a very strong cast.
Please see this if you have the time, it is truly a great production, and I’m very happy I was able to see it.
The King and I runs January 24th to February 3rd for 13 performances, including two matinees. Tickets can be purchased at online at www.stgpresents.org and at the Paramount box office.