BY CHARLIE C. THEATER CRITIC The King and I, in a few words, spoils audiences with its grandeur. The Lincoln Center Theater’s production of this Rogers & Hammerstein classic proudly boasts rich and elegant set designs, wisely casted actors, and a poignant but deeply affecting ending that will stick with you long afterwards. It felt wildly similar to the similar product of Rodgers and Hammerstein, The Sound of Music, in terms of its cheerful and uplifting protagonist and timeless, soaring melodies. The marriage of all of these elements crafted an unforgettable experience that is difficult to place in words.
The King and I tells the story of a newly widowed English schoolteacher who traversed a cross-continental difference to reach the principality of Siam, where she held dearly the promise of proper housing gifted to her by the King if she mentored the many children of the promiscuous sovereign. Anna has been assigned to teach the royal family the etiquette and language of those in England. Almost immediately, this aforementioned promise was forgotten by the king as the teacher, who goes by the name of Anna Loenowens, was forced to reside in the palace.
Almost immediately, tensions build between Anna and the King due to their clashing personalities. Never before has the King come across a woman who speaks her mind and is not completely deferential to him. Anna has never before come across a man who restricts himself to the egregious belief that females are inferior to men. A friendship and respect soon develops between the two as their tempestuous relationship blossoms, and Anna grows to love the children she teaches. But soon enough, in order to alter their view of the imperialistic king, Anna and the King must make haste to prepare a dinner for English diplomats.
The portrayals of these characters were delightful. Laura Michelle Kelly performance as Anna perfectly animated the depth of her character with an impeccable voice fit for such a production. Jose Llana, as the King, brought to life the humorous potentate, emphasising the droll characteristics of the man while also never failing to provide emotional depth to his naturally intimidating character. And the rest of the cast were similarly delightful to watch, most notably Joan Almedilla’s portrayal of Lady Thiang.
I find it funny how, after seeing only one performance I have fallen in love with this musical in the age of musicals such as Hamilton or Waitress flooding broadway. Any description of this production is an understatement, due to surprisingly humorous moments and immaculate portrayals of raw emotion. All in all, a solid cast and appealing and engaging musical numbers rendered this performance of The King and I a masterfully crafted and worthy rendition of a classic musical.
THE LINCOLN CENTER THEATERS’ PRODUCTION OF ROGERS & HAMMERSTEIN’S THE KING & I NOW PLAYING @ THE ACADEMY OF MUSIC THROUGH APRIL 2ND
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Charlie is a thirteen year old esteemed serial procrastinator, a voracious reader, a musical obsessive, and wants a cat despite an allergic brother.