In an era with rock, and even rap, musicals growing in popularity, The King and I, is a brilliant resher. The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, which premiered in 1951, tells the story of English schoolteacher, Anna Leonowens (Laura Michelle Kelly). Anna, with her young son (Graham Montgomery), travel to Siam, where Anna is to teach the King of Siam’s (Jose Llana)’s many children. The production is a beautiful blend of vocal talent, orchestral brilliance, and technical mastery.
Like most opening nights, there were a few bumps in actions, but the talent in the cast is incredible. It is not only the beautiful voice of Laura Michelle Kelly’s, known for her role as Mary Poppins, that makes her Anna is prominent, but her chemistry with the King (Jose Llana). The bickering pair provide both comic relief and sentiment. Llana is comedic gold, with deliverances that brought the audience to shake with laughter. Joan Almedilla, who portrays the King’s chief wife Lady Thiang, had a voice that shone in “Something Wonderful.” As the show progresses into the second act, and ballet rendition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin is performed. The scene features both graceful and erratic movements that flow with music, sounds, and lighting. The scene is spectacularly done, and if stood alone from the show, would be completely fulfilling. The most fun performances come from the King's children. Though the children may have few lines, each child is able to distinctly capture a personality in actions alone. And not only the cast possessed incredible talent, but the orchestra as well. The songs and score were presented nearly flawlessly.
Furthermore, the production’s technical aspects completely caught me by surprise. The stage was filled with a vibrant color scheme of reds and golds. Done by Donald Holder the lighting with silhouettes and general application of color, create the world of Siam. Similarly, the costumes, designed by Catherine Zuber, are gorgeous. Anna sweeps across the stage in her enormous 1860s dresses, and the regal royal palace ensembles complete the sensation character concepts. The intricate set, which ascends down, was also quite nice. The show’s technical side was so beautiful, and was the highlight of the show.
The show was completely beautiful in performance talent and in visuals. The classic story was still made to feel fresh, advanced, and relevant. It left an audience of all ages in a standing ovation, that was very well deserved.The King and I makes for a wonderful night at the theatre.