Polished And Impressive “King And I” Travels to the Fox

king-shipLush and beautiful to see, the old Rodgers and Hammerstein chestnut, “The King And I,” has been reborn under the direction of Bartlett Sher and the national tour has stopped in St. Louis at the Fox Theatre. A splendid cast is equal to the task and makes you fall in love all over again with Anna and the way she transforms the vain and rigid King.

king-buddahJose Llana and Laura Michelle Kelly make a charming couple with a lot of chemistry as he teaches her how a country is run and, as a teacher to his rather large household of children, teaches him to join the rest of the world. Mr. Llana is a young and vivacious King and his signature intro to us, “A Puzzlement,” gives a hint to the fact that he knows he might be out of touch. Ms. Kelly’s songs are the backbone of the R&H lore including “Hello, Young Lovers,” “Whistle A Happy Tune” and, of course, the iconic lesson in the polka, “Shall We Dance.” She acts and sings the part beautifully.

king-youngAs those young lovers, Q Lim as Tuptin and Kavin Panmeechao as Lun Tha are a delightful pair who share the beautiful number, “We Kiss In A Shadow.” Joan Almedilla is a courageous Lady Thiang, the King’s main wife who fights through her struggles with “Something Wonderful” as she explains how the small moments keeps her going.

king-uncleThe ensemble is amazing, particularly during the iconic “Small House Of Uncle Thomas”- a pageant that is much better on stage than listening to it on the CD. It’s a fascinating take on an American classic. Bartlett Sher’s direction and the Christopher Gattelli choreography shine in this and all the numbers. It’s a strong, new version of a classic that redefines it with a contemporary look that made his reworking of Rodgers and Hammerstien’s “South Pacific” so magical a few years ago.

king-teachingMichael Yeargan’s sets are impressive from the large ship that brings Anna and her son to Siam to the small, intimate moments. Donal Holder’s lights are dramatic as well and the Catherine Zuber costumes are perfect. Robert Russell Bennett’s new orchestrations are superb and well rendered under the baton of Gerald Steichen.

king-shallweRemembering way back when Yul Brynner made is famous “last tour before he died” tour of the show, this is a whole new reason to enjoy the beautiful score and happy and tragic story of “The King And I.” It’s a relatively short run- through December 10th at the Fox- so be sure to call and visit Siam, Anna and the King before they shuffle out of town.

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One Response to “Polished And Impressive “King And I” Travels to the Fox”

  1. Pam Wissore Says:

    Wonderful review of a wonderful show. One correction: the dance is a polka, not a waltz.

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