By Sheryl Aronson
The King and I, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s original musical was revived on Broadway twice, in 1996 and 2015. From the very first time this classic musical hit the stage, The King and I has been nominated and won Tony Awards for best musical and best revival of a musical. The Lincoln Center’s recent touring production at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, running through January 21st, proved once again why this thoroughly entertaining and compelling story has received so many accolades.
One is simply enchanted as we enter into the exotic kingdom of Siam through the moveable, ingeniously designed sets, the resplendent period costumes…which is then highlighted by the brilliant musical score and choreography. The timeless tale of love between the proper British teacher, Anna Leonowens and the proud, magisterial King, continues to capture audiences’ imaginations and hearts.
When Laura Michael Kelly as Anna first belts out “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” at the beginning of the play, she showed off her delectable vocal ability. Leading the wives and children of the King into the song, “Getting to Know You,” Kelly created the perfect warm temperature of happiness and welcoming. Throughout the performance she moved with grace, a forceful spirit, and embodied her character with such a pleasurable, palatable execution.
Jose Llana portrayed the King of Siam with an eloquent bravado and intelligence. His comic timing was impeccable, which was intermixed with just the right amount of imperious seriousness. Their chemistry crackled and popped with each interaction, so when the two actors staged the iconic dance number, “Shall We Dance,” the thrill of their daring dance steps around the moving columns, reverberated throughout the Pantages.
Bartlett Sher’s inventive staging was quite thrilling, with just enough dynamic dance numbers that at times took place while the sets were in motion, and at times were presented with the classic perfection of just delivering the song. Christopher Gattelli, choreographer, delivered his own distinct mark on the dance numbers. The show stopper was “Uncle Thomas’s Ballet” which was executed exquisitely… Breathtaking.
The cast was strongly supported by Joan Almedlla, as the powerful Lady Thiang, Manna Nichols as the lovely but rebellious Tuptim, Anthony Chan as the devoted magistrate of the King, Kavin Panmeechao as the doomed lover, Lun Tha, and Graham Montgomery, as the inquisitive Prince Chulalongkorn. The huge cast of children, the King’s numerous wives, and British subjects filled the bill superbly with supporting performances.
The King and I will be playing until January 21st, 2017 at the Pantages Theater, Hollywood. You shall want to dance all the way to the Theater and enjoy this marvelous production. For ticket info : http://hollywoodpantages.com/
Major Stars from Broadway, Television, Music and Film came out to celebrate opening night:
Video Courtesy: Hollywood Pantages Theatre