The King and I, True to its History
How would I describe this show? Beautiful, full of a story that keeps you watching, and wonderful dancing. It has this, plus a whole lot of sexism, misogyny, and a breath of a white savior complex. Is it a product of its time? Yes. Yet, for its time it had progressive themes and the production showed the culture and style of Siam with nuance. The story of The King and I, playing from February 28th through March 5th, is a classic from Margaret Landon's book published in 1944. The story is, at its core, a story of a metamorphosis of acceptance, and the tension of such a change. That is why this show is a classic, and this production of this story does a magnificent job, with no detail too small or idea to large for them to have fully address and accomplished.
From the moment the King and I started until the final bow I had the distinct feeling of being able to walk into Siam by simply walking onto the stage. The set frankly blew me away. This set was grand, yet so simple, exemplified best by the moving pillars. They were painted eloquently. I truly felt they could have been pulled from a palace. They seemed to float from one spot to the next, constantly changing where you were in the scenes, without ever needing huge pieces. It was magical. The quality of this production is unsurpassed from any other I have seen this season, and was amplified by the lighting that was something I didn’t think about once throughout the performance but quietly drew me in and tricked me onto the stage.
Not only did the lighting and set transport me, but the costumes were something that must be mentioned. Anna, played by Laura Michelle Kelly gracefully navigated a full hoop dress the entire show. I was lost to how beautiful Anna’sdress was in the second act, and I felt as if she had stepped straight from a princess novel.
A strong cast boosted this show even more. The ensembles dancing was amazing, and is something that would make me want to watch this show another time. The singing? Well, it wasn’t some of the worst I have heard, but not something I would say deserves the title broadway. The royal children Riley Sickels, Cj Uy, Noah Toledo, and Rhyees Stump were a delight to watch and brought humor that had me laughing.
This show is a product of its time, and this production brings this classic to us impeccably, with utter professionalism. I can say I recommend seeing The King and I, but would humbly recommend to anyone who has yet to see it, look at it through a critical lens. It may be from the previous century, but we live in different times.