The King and I.
***** 5 Stars
“ A Sumptuous Theatrical Treat!”
Sixty-eight years after it debut, the classic Rogers and Hammerstein opulent triumph, The King and I was spectacularly revived by the Lincoln Centre in 2015 and became a four-time Tony Award winning critically acclaimed mega hit. It was revived in the west end at the London Palladium in 2018 and its that production which has hit the road in the UK and pays a visit to the Edinburgh Playhouse and its nothing short of a Sumptuous Theatrical Treat.
The King and I is the fifth musical by the team of composer Richard Rodgers and dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II. It is based on Margaret Landon’s novel, Anna and the King of Siam, which is in turn derived from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. The musical’s plot relates the experiences of Anna, a British schoolteacher hired as part of the King’s drive to modernize his country. The relationship between the King and Anna is marked by conflict , and a love to which neither can admit.
Performances in this production are universally sublime, Anna Leonowens is portrayed by Annalene Beechey fresh from her success in the role at the London Palladium, hers is a towering portrayal that harnesses the strength and raw human emotion of the character. The King of Siam is role that will be indelibly link to Yul Bryner ( he originated the role and played it 4,625 times across 32 years and included the motion picture adaptation. In this Production Jose Llana (direct from the Broadway production) brings a fresh level of sensitivity and command to the role that’s never more potent than during his stillness during the “Small House of Uncle Thomas” Ballet. Its truly a tour de force.
Director Bartlett Sher has well and truly delivered the goods on this production a well drilled cast, sparkling chorography from Christopher Gattelli (working from the much loved original choreography of Jerome Robbins) is delivered in the most beautiful of ways. Michael Yeargan’s set design is a triumph reviving the sheer joy of the classic big budget Broadway musical. This is aided by Donald Holder’s magnificent lighting design.
Special mention must also go to Catherine Zuber and her simply stunning costume design, the true highlight of the production and a bench mark in opulence it knocks the eye out never more so than during the “Shall We Dance” this is a sparkling moment of musical theatre that shines like a jewel.
This production earned everyone of its five stars, however there were sound problems on press night, with delays in microphones coming on and some shocking feedback, but this wasn’t enough to remove a star, as the technical team will cure this once the show beds into its run.
This production of The King and I is triumph to the revival of the classic Broadway musical, a sumptuous affair from start to finish, a large orchestra, excellent cast, stunning sets, costumes and lighting combine for the most unforgettable of theatrical treats.
Get along the Playhouse Theatre and experience it yourself before The King and I sails away into the sunset of Siam.
The Lincoln Center Theatre Presents, The King and I, Edinburgh Playhouse, Run until Saturday 27th October, for Tickets go to : www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-king-and-i/edinburgh-playhouse/