'King and I' gets royal treatment in new Broadway revival

Fri Apr 17, 2015 1:42pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein 1951 musical "The King and I" is getting the royal treatment on Broadway with a 29-piece orchestra and huge cast in a production critics say is breathtaking and beautiful.

The show that opened on Thursday night at the Vivian Beaumont Theater tells the story of the Welsh widow, Anna Leonowens, who travels to Bangkok in the 1860s to become a teacher to the King of Siam's children.

Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr immortalized the roles in the 1956 film, which won five Oscars, including best actor for the Russian-born Brynner, who took home a Tony award for his portrayal of King Mongkut in the original Broadway show.

In the new stage production, multiple Tony nominee Kelli O'Hara plays the feisty Anna with Japanese actor Ken Watanabe as the monarch.

"You can't overstate how stunningly beautiful, how achingly well sung this new revival of 'The King and I, is" said the New York Post newspaper.

Although written decades ago, USA Today said the musical about different cultures and love was still relevant.

"The 'King and I' still has much to tell us about our differences and shared interests - about all the beautiful and new things we can learn from each other, day to day," it added.

The show reunites O'Hara with director Bartlett Sher, who worked together on "South Pacific," in a performance the trade magazine Variety described as "ravishing."   Continued...