Sexist and misogynistic. Touching, endearing and full of humor. These opposing qualities characterize, at various stages, 'The King' at the center of The King and I, in a show that is about the possibilities of transformation, and it's all candy coated in beautiful costumer and breathtaking dance numbers. Running from February 28 through March 5 at the Orpheum it just may be the perfect rom-com musical you've been looking for in these charged political times.
In many AP European History classes, students learn about Europe’s colonization and modernization of different continents such as Africa, The Americas, and Asia. The show is served up as a perfect companion to these studies, which help contextualize everything that was going on throughout the time period of the show and what had happened prior to the setting.
The King And I is about an english teacher named Anna from Burma (which was colonized by Britain) that goes to teach for the King of Siam (which is modern day Thailand). The major gap between social and cultural norms leads to many disagreements and arguments between The King and Anna, soon enough their anger toward each other turns into love.
What really stands out in this overall excellent production is the traditional Siamese dancing. The play within the musical “Small House Of Uncle Thomas” was my favorite scene because of the beautiful dancing that was featured. The talent on display throughout the scene was truly amazing and beyond what one usually experiences in other quality productions. The play not only gives a bit of insight into the featured religion but it also gives you insight into how the Siamese people perceived Western culture.
The lighting ... well, let me tell you about the lighting. It was simply extraordinary. Throughout the entire show the lighting did nothing but elevate the story itself. It does what any strong lighting execution is supposed to do: direct the viewer where to look, how to feel ... it draws you in. It truly was integrated, working hand in hand with the sophisticated set.
The set of this show was, in fat, one of the most well designed sets that i've ever seen in any show, if only because it worked so well in conjunction with every other aspect of the show. The setting, the lighting, and the costuming - all of it working together beautifully in harmony to elevate the sum of the parts into theater magic. The costuming, which alone one could argue was the centerpiece of the show, was really just beautifully laced and bowed icing on the cake. The dresses, head dress, makeup, and hair really take you in a portal to Siam circa 1860. The way all of the technical elements fit together like a puzzle created an indelible picture of the time and place; unlike any show that I’ve seen.
The sexism portrayed through The King was really eye opening as to what it was really like during that time period. You could literally feel the audience heating up when the king sang “Song Of The King”. But one can imagine that the fact of the matter is that many cultures were characteristically sexist back then. The messages and themes throughout the show were so very meaningful.
The biggest theme was equality which is a relevant theme that some people still need to learn about in today's society. Anna stood up for women and spoke out against The King so many times and it really sent the message that women are just as strong and just as independent as men. Not only did you see this theme being portrayed through Anna but also through Tuptim. During Tuptim’s play you can hear her anti slavery message loud and clear, and at the end of it when she finally spoke out against The King you could really almost feel the theme resonate throughout the entire theatre.
This production of The King And I is first- rate, clearly one of the best shows that I’ve witnessed. It's message and it's technical execution are levels beyond other production, leaving the viewer to remember the visuals, the humor and the meaningful theme. In the end we leave the show whistling the well known songs and wanting more of the traditional Siamese dancing. All in all I recommend marking down this critically-acclaimed and Tony Award-winning show a must see.