Written by Serena
Breathtaking scenery and costumes, creative choreography, plus knockout performances by Kelli O’Hara & Ken Watanabe equals a new production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I that will delight you! Directed by Bartlett Sher, this classic musical recently received 9 Tony Award Nominations. Having only seen the 1956 movie version (which has always bored me), I went in with low expectations. This production far exceeded them – even the songs that I don’t particularly like were sung beautifully and the overall show was so entertaining that it held my interest throughout.
Here’s why you don’t want to miss this revival of The King and I:
- Star Power
Kelli O’Hara & Ken Watanabe are perfectly suited to their parts. Kelli shines in her role as Anna and sings the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein songs like an angel. Ken gives a wonderfully nuanced performance as the King of Siam; amusing at times, but also severe and complex. Both are thoroughly deserving of their Tony Nominations.
- Ruthie Ann Miles
Also a Tony Nominee, Ruthie Ann Miles is a delight to watch. As Lady Thiang (the “lead” wife) she rules the roost with a firm hand, yet a sympathetic and understanding heart. Her facial expressions were what really sold me – her silences conveyed more than words can.
- The Stage and Set Design
One of the best things about the Vivian Beaumont Theater is the thrust stage, which extends into the audience. The seating is arranged in a semi-circle and the open stage allows everyone to have a good view, no matter where you are located. It makes for a more intimate theater experience being much closer to the actors. Michael Yeargan uses that to full advantage with his impressive set designs– most notably, the giant 19th-century ship that drifts right towards you in the opening scene. The stage itself feels cavernous, and it was beautifully decorated to suit the period and setting.
- The Young Ensemble
The King and I boasts a huge ensemble, most of whom are on stage for a large portion the show. All the children are adorable and will make you chuckle and go “awww.” I was particularly impressed by Jon Viktor Corpuz who plays the heir to the throne, Prince Chulalongkorn. He outwardly tries to display a lot of bravado, but underneath is just a confused child. Jake Lucas was also charming as Anna’s son, Louis.
- Choreography by Christopher Gattelli
One of my biggest gripes with The King and I is that there was not enough dancing, especially since the few dance numbers were fantastic and I would have like to see more of it. Christopher Gattelli employs a unique style that is not like anything else currently on Broadway- obviously influenced by the Asian culture (and based on the original choreography by Jerome Robbins), there was a lot of intricate hand and foot movements combined with amazing acrobatic leaps, ballet, and martial arts. It was great to see Cole Horibe making his Broadway debut – if you’ve seen him on SYTYCD, you would know how perfectly suited he is to this genre of dance.
- Gorgeous Costumes by Catherine Zuber
From the young children’s silk pajamas, to the lavish wrap dresses, there is a lot to look at. Half the time I was distracted from the show being performed because I was so busy soaking in the intricately detailed costumes that are so rich in color and texture. Each of Anna’s dresses should get separate billing because they are works of art. You can’t help but love the way they move and reflect the light, especially in the iconic “Shall We Dance” number. The hoop skirts are a hoot and if you’re close enough to get a peek underneath you can catch a glimpse of the authentic undergarments (or lack thereof.)
- The Small House of Uncle Thomas
What a thrilling spectacle! Narrated by Tuptim (played by the lovely Ashley Park), The Small House of Uncle Thomas is a major highlight. Taking place midway through the show, the play brings together all the elements that make The King and I so wonderful. Superb choreography, captivating costumes and set design, a pinch of humor and A+ storytelling by the cast.
The best way to get tickets to The King and I is through a discount ticket program called LincTix. It is free to join and open to anyone age 21-35. For this particular date we had to book months in advance, but as a bonus for LincTix members, there was a free post-show party on the rooftop where we got to mingle with the cast. Our seats were also amazing – Row G on the left side orchestra which put us extremely close to the open stage and at eye level with the actors.
Things to keep in mind if you decide to see The King and I:
- Because of the way the show is staged, almost every seat in the house has a good view; however, we were told by a cast member that the side views get a lot more action
- Seats are only slightly squishy compared to some other theaters.
- There is only one restroom for the women and men in the main lobby so the lines can get pretty long, but they move quickly.