Wednesday, December 21, 2016

THE KING AND I by Carol Kaufman Segal
 Richard Rodgers (composer) and Oscar Hammerstein (lyricist/dramatist) collaborated in the 40’s and 50’s on musicals that became successful Broadway hits.  Prior to their association, Rodgers had partnered with Lorenzo Hart, and Hammerstein had teamed with Jerome Kern, also creating successful Broadway productions.  However, Rodgers and Hammerstein, in their relationship, garnered 34 Tony Awards, 15 Academy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and 2 Grammy Awards.
 New productions of all of their shows and music continue to be popular among theatergoers.  The Lincoln Center touring production of The King and I by Rodgers and Hammerstein, has come to the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, and is a most lavish, phenomenal, and enchanting production.    
 This musical was based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam, set in 1860, by Margaret Landon, a fictionalized version taken from the memoirs of a British schoolteacher, Anna Leonowens.  Anna, a widow, sailed to Siam with her young son.  The King of Siam hired Anna to teach his children in his quest to bring his country more up-to-date.   At times, there was a great deal of contention between Anna and the King, but as time wore on, he was able to let go of some of his monarchic characteristics, and it became obvious that they felt something for each other that neither could ever admit
 Laura Michelle Kelly is elegant as Anna with a voice to match.  When we think of The King of Siam in The King and I, it is difficult not to think of Yul Brynner who made the part his own.   But seeing Jose Llana in this production, leaves no doubt that a new King has been crowned!  Joan Almadilla is a strong force as Lady Thiang, and Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao as Tutim and Lun Tha are bittersweet as the young tragic lovers.
 The large cast, the unique dancers, and the young children allow us to feel the ambiance of Siam as do the creative sets by Michael Yeargan, and the distinctive costumes by Catherine Zuber as well as the lighting by Donald Holder and sound by Scott Lehrer.  Choreographer Christopher Gattelli based the dancing on the original choreography by Jerome Robbins.  And the beautiful Rodgers and Hammerstein music was performed by an orchestra under the direction of Gerald Heichen.  All of this outstanding production is under the astute direction of Bartlett Sher.
Some of the classic songs from The King and I are Getting To Know You, I Whistle a Happy Tune, Hello Young Lovers, and Shall We Dance
The King and I is playing at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles.  Tickets and schedule of performances are available at HollywoodPantages.com, Ticketmaster.com, by phone at (800) 982-2787, in person at the Pantages Box Office (open daily at 10 AM), and all Ticketmaster Outlets.

Highly recommended

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