London Palladium, 8 Argyll Street, Soho, London W1F 7TE
Loosely based on Margaret Landon’s 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam (which Landon based on the mémoires of English woman Anna Leonowens), Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the musical The King and I, which premiered on Broadway in March of 1951, where it ran for three years winning the Tony award for best musical in 1952.
The musical tells the story of Anna, who is employed as a governess to the children of the King of Siam.
Director, Bartlett Sher, brings the Lincoln centre theatre 2015 Tony award winning revival of the King and I to the West End for a limited fourteen week run.
From the moment the overture began, I knew this was no run of the mill revival. Pastel coloured lighting interlaced across the golden backdrop curtain changed to depict the mood of the music, as the Orchestra under the guidance of Stephen Ridley, skilfully played each familiar song.
Scenery designed by Michael Yeargan is effective and stylish transferring the viewer from a steamboat of the 1800s to the palace of the King of Siam.
Costumes designed by Catherine Zuber are bright, colourful and luxurious reflecting the culture and era of the piece.
Choreography by Christopher Gattelli is stunning as each routine is performed with energy and elegance by the very talented group of dancers. Ena Yamaguchi and Jonathan Caguioa gave outstanding performances as Eliza and George/Angel in the iconic number The Small house of Uncle Thomas.
Na-Young Jeon shines as Princess Tuptim, her beautiful voice combined with accomplished acting skills resulting in a performance that was breathtaking.
Ken Watanabe is superb as the King of Siam, creating a character that is warm, funny, strong and has amazing chemistry with Kelli O’ Hara which enhances both performances.
Kelli O’ Hara as Anna creates a character that is strong, independent, warm and witty. O’ Hara delivered the familiar songs with ease, her magnificent voice filled the auditorium, resulting in an overall performance that is stunning.
Full of iconic songs, cute talented children, outstanding performances from an extremely talented cast, this production also addresses issues that remain relevant to society today.
The King and I is a splendid, ritzy, unashamed “old style musical”, which I would recommend to any fan of musical theatre and which thoroughly deserved the standing ovation it received from every audience member in the sold out London Palladium.
Theatretastic rating 5/5*
We say: “From the moment the overture began, I knew this was no run of the mill revival. This is a triumphant masterpiece with performances you do not want to miss! Spectacular!”