The King and I production photos

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 Rodgers 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.

Director, Bartlett Sher, brings the Lincoln Centre Theatre 2015 Tony award winning revival of The King and I from the West End to Birmingham on its tour of the UK. The critically acclaimed production had West End audiences mesmerised and saw numerous nominations in the 2019 Olivier Awards, including a nomination for Best Musical Revival. MT saw the production in the West End and we both got to see a snippet of the new touring cast when we attended the Olivier Awards in April.

For those not familiar, the musical tells the story of Anna, who is employed as a governess to the children of the King of Siam. 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 Jesse Milligan gave outstanding performances as Eliza and Angel/George in the iconic number The Small House of Uncle Thomas.

Paulina Yeung shines as Princess Tuptim as her voice melted the audience with its velvet tones and beautiful pitch. This combined with her accomplished acting skills resulting in a performance that was breathtaking and gave me goosebumps. Cezarah Bonner as Lady Thiang gave us one of the highlights of the evening with her stunning performance of Something Wonderful.

Jose Llana is superb as the King of Siam, creating a character that is warm, funny, strong and has amazing chemistry with Annalene Beechey which enhances both performances. Llana gave such a memorable and likeable performance as the King.

Annalene Beechey as Anna creates a character that is strong, independent, warm and witty. Beechey delivered the familiar songs with ease, her magnificent voice filled the auditorium, resulting in an overall unforgettable performance.

Full of iconic songs, extremely cute and extremely talented children, outstanding performances from a 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. This revival thoroughly deserved the rapturous applause and standing ovations that it received from the Birmingham audience.

The production is in Birmingham at The Alexandra until the 4th of January 2020 before it continues on with its UK tour. If you are going to catch any musical revival, make sure it is this one!


Theatretastic rating 5/5

We say: “A breathtaking revival to end all revivals. Expect goosebumps. Simply spectacular! “