Set in 1860s Bangkok, 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.
The Tony Award-Winning “The King and I,” based on the 1944 novel, “Anna and the King of Siam”, by Margaret Landon, is the 5th Rodgers and Hammerstein classic musical which has been given new life with this amazing masterpiece which includes an over-the-top set display that makes you feel you’ve stepped right in the deep waters overlooking Bangkok. To witness The King of Siam humbling himself right before our very eyes, was definitely worth checking out as we witnessed major attitude adjustments in this period-based timepiece. While there was much hope for the romance between the “Strictly Business” school teacher Anna and His Royal Majesty, The King Of Siam, the path to greatness seemed to have lots of rough edges. The stark personalities of an independent Anna Leonowens (Laura Michelle Kelly) and her impressionable son, along with a no-nonsense, testosterone-filled Man-Ruler, who carried the weight of the world on his shoulders, weighed heavily on the plot of a love story that seemed doomed for many reasons.
The storyline revolves around Anna uprooting herself and her son to take on the duties of a school teacher in order to satisfy the King Of Siam and his royal responsibility. While Anna was willing to avail herself socially, she was not prepared to handle the personal transition involved with working directly with the outspoken and ruthless King. Not to be outdone though, Anna, without barely trying, came up with a plan to win the hearts of the school children, which resulted in also winning the heart of the king. The royal children and their stark personalities were the best part of the show. How they handled the welcoming of their future English Governess was both entertaining and hilarious. The seemingly timid children who were expected to fall into the order of things without much ado stole every minute of the show.
This production, which was based on a true story, gives the audience two hours and fifty minutes of humor, stellar vocals and a basic storyline line about overcoming adversity. Director Bartlett Sher did an amazing job with every aspect of the production and while the family-oriented musical with Rodgers and Hammerstein has a long, successful history, with Yul Brenner previously in the role of King Mongkut, it is easy to see how, with each modern presentation, there is more to appreciate from the changing world of art. The multitalented cast weaves through the story and the set design magically and moves at a pace that lends a great deal of creativity and gives several perspectives on growing into greatness. Everyone in the audience can benefit from learning to achieve common ground and coming to terms with one’s own strengths and weaknesses. Don’t miss the event as wholesome entertainment for the entire family!
Performing at the Winspear Opera House thru December 31st