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Lincoln Center Theater Presents a Grand Revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s "The King and I"
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Lincoln Center Theater Presents a Grand Revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s "The King and I"

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Lincoln Center Theater
At the Vivian Beaumont

André Bishop, Producing Artistic Director
Adam Siegel, Managing Director
Hattie K. Jutagir, Exec. Director,
Development & Planning

in association with Ambassador Theatre Group

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s
The King and I
(The King and I Website)

Music by Richard Rodgers
Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
based on the novel Anna and the King of Siam
by Margaret Landon

Director: Bartlett Sher
Choreographer: Christopher Gattelli
Based on Original Choreography by Jerome Robbins
Music Direction: Ted Sperling

Kelli O’Hara, Ken Watanabe
Ruthie Ann Miles, Ashley Park, Conrad Ricamora
Edward Baker-Duly, Jon Viktor Corpuz, Murphy Guyer
Jake Lucas, Paul Nakauchi, Marc Oka

and an ensemble of actors/singers/dancers

Sets: Michael Yeargan
Costumes: Catherine Zuber
Lighting: Donald Holder
Sound: Scott Lehrer
Orchestrations: Robert Russell Bennett
Dance and Incidental Music Arranged by Trude Rittmann
Production Stage Manager: Jennifer Rae Moore
Casting: Telsey + Company, Abbie Brady-Dalton, CSA
General Manager: Jessica Niebanck
General Press Agent: Philip Rinaldi
Production Manager: Paul Smithyman
Director of Marketing: Linda Mason Ross

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 25, 2015 Matinee

Every once in a while, one experiences a quintessential afternoon or evening at the theater, and that play or musical is revisited in the mind for days, after the final curtain call. I had just that extraordinary experience this afternoon, at the Vivian Beaumont. Lincoln Center Theater has revived Rodgers and Hammerstein’s sumptuous musical, The King and I, shaped by the very seasoned hands of Director, Bartlett Sher. His 2008 production of South Pacific, also at the Beaumont, still rewinds in images and song to this day. Even though the storyline of The King and I, based on the novel, Anna and the King of Siam, by Margaret Landon, involves a King of Siam with a dutiful, obedient wife, a young, restricted concubine, a dozen, royal children (with adorable personalities), each with a different mother, and an obsession with the bowing ritual, down to the floor, for all who great him, the theme is synthesized and clarified in an educational manner for the audience.

Each viewer is immediately and magnetically drawn in. It helps that the Beaumont has steeply raked, semicircle seating, with fantastic sight lines. It also helps that most members of the audience could have hummed, in advance, the tunes of most of the show’s numbers, like “I Whistle a Happy Tune”, “Hello, Young Lovers”, and “Getting to Know You”. The show starts with a massive tall ship, evocative of the 1860’s, the timeline of the story, arriving at the Bangkok docks from Singapore. This ship sits on a stage that expands toward the audience, as if sailing into our port. Anna Leonowens (Kelli O’Hara, in probably her finest role), a widow, and her young son Louis (Jake Lucas, acting with confidence and poise) will take up residence in a private apartment (or so she was promised) near the King’s palace, so Anna can tutor the children in British educational subjects, through Western teaching style. After the inevitable cultural clashes and conflicts, not the least of which is that promised apartment, Anna and the King (a big breakout role for Ken Watanabe) finally arrive at that big polka, “Shall We Dance”.

Ms. O’Hara is operatically trained (she appeared at the Met Opera in a past production of The Merry Widow), and her tonal purity and vocal range are truly impressive. She also acts with nuanced gesture and expressiveness, as the Welsh widow who loves her students, but has a well of emotions left over. A brief encounter in the royal court with Sir Edwards Ramsey (a fine Edward Baker-Duly) reveals a past affair. Mr. Watanabe, who is still practicing English enunciation, also reveals a well of emotions as the conflicted and chauvinistic King. Mr. Watanabe embodies a King who is honest and humble around Anna, eventually allowing her not to bow, as long as she never stands above him. This poignant and torn relationship is directed by the masterful Mr. Sher (who is also known by Met Opera fans for his productions of Les Contes d’Hoffmann and L’Elisir d’Amore). Mr. Sher does not rush watershed, dramatic moments or iconic, mellifluous songs. The King’s “A Puzzlement” is sung with a sense of entertainment, and Anna’s “Hello, Young Lovers” is sung with dramatic depth.

Ruthie Ann Miles, as Lady Thiang, the King’s most admired wife, is a huge surprise, as is Ashley Park, as Tuptim, the youthful concubine, a gift from the King of Burma. Both actresses, in breakout roles, have silken vocal quality and exceptional persuasiveness. Lady Thiang’s “Something Wonderful”, an ode to the King, renders the audience breathless. Tuptim, who is caught in a clandestine romance with a young man of the court, Lun Tha (Conrad Ricamora), sings, with her lover, “I Have Dreamed”, and, once again, one fantasizes about hearing it all over again. Mr. Ricamora performs the role with adolescent urgency and impulse. One of the most fascinating characters in this musical is Prince Chulalongkorn (Jon Viktor Corpuz), the heir to the King’s throne. One sees the royal rituals and history of this nineteenth century, Siamese kingdom through this Prince, thanks to the mesmerizing performance of Mr. Corpuz.

Christopher Gattelli’s choreography adheres closely to Jerome Robbins’ original design, and the ballet within a play, “The Small House of Uncle Thomas”, is exquisite, in elegant movement and gesture. Michael Yeargan’s sets are highly imaginative and outstanding, not just the moving, tall ship, but also the palace and ballet scenery. Catherine Zuber’s costumes are astounding, including the sparkling, bejeweled ballet costumes and Anna’s long, satin, hooped dresses. Donald Holder’s lighting is especially resonant in the shadowy court dramas. Scott Lehrer’s sound kept every single note, instrumental and vocal, eloquently rich and tuneful. Ted Sperling conducted the rapturous score. Kudos to all, and kudos to Rodgers and Hammerstein.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at