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‘The King and I’ at The Fox

2017 September 18
by Susan Asher

The Lincoln Center Theater Production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” comes to The Fox Sept. 26-Oct. 1. Directed by Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher, the Lincoln Center production won four 2015 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical. The show features classic tunes, which include “Getting To Know You,” “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello Young Lovers,” “Shall We Dance” and “Something Wonderful.”

Based on the novel by Margaret Landon and derived from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist King, in an imperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children.

There’s no word on the Fox website on who will be in the cast, but last December the Los Angeles Times said, “Music supervisor Ted Sperling helms a blissful cast, spearheaded by Laura Michelle Kelly as Anna and Jose Llana as the King of Siam. Matter-of-factly elegant, Kelly imbues her character with a refreshing naturalism. Early in the musical, her rendition of “Hello, Young Lovers” establishes the widowed Anna’s sheer dauntlessness, but with an unmistakable undercurrent of loss that brings tears to our eyes — just one example of a masterful, moving performance.

“Any actor who plays the King must find his own light in the shadow of Yul Brynner’s indelible portrayal, and Llana certainly shines in his delightfully revisionist turn, which emphasizes the boyish uncertainty under his character’s outward imperiousness. Veins of previously unplumbed humor come to light in the performance, but when it comes time to twist the heartstrings, he has the gravitas, judging from the prolific use of hankies throughout the audience.”

The musical premiered on March 29, 1951, at Broadway’s St. James Theatre, where it ran for nearly three years, making it the fourth longest-running Broadway musical in history at the time. It won three Tony Awards, one of which was for Best Musical.

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