Featured Post

Letterboxd Reviews

So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Theater Review - The King and I

The King and I
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Book by Oscar Hammerstein II
Directed by Bartlett Sher
Where: Lincoln Center Theater at the Vivian Beaumont, New York, NY
When:  Saturday, December 26, 2015, 8pm
After the lovely revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific directed by Bartlett Sher at Lincoln Center, The King and I had a lot to live up to seeing as how it's another Rodgers and Hammerstein production also directed by Bartlett Sher and also showing at Lincoln Center.  While it doesn't overtake South Pacific purely based on the book and songs, The King and I is still a charming production, beautifully acted and nicely directed.

Tony winner Kelli O'Hara takes on the role of Anna, a Welsh teacher who travels to Siam to teach the many children of the King played here by Hoon Lee.  The duo of O'Hara and Lee are rather intriguing together -- there's a slight romantic spark between the two coupled with a tension as the authoritarian King attempts to rule over Anna and their quick-worded barbed exchanges are charming.  O'Hara is gloriously at home on the stage with a voice that commands attention in both the most dramatic and comedic of situations.  This is my third time seeing O'Hara onstage and she really is a treat to watch and hear.  Lee is a nice counterpoint, taking on a serious tone, but having a quick wit that makes The King and I much more humorous than I ever expected.

The stand-out moment of the evening for me, however, came from Tony winner Ruthie Ann Miles as Lady Thiang, the King's most "treasured" wife -- you see, he has many women to whom he is betrothed.  When she belts out Rodgers and Hammerstein's rather heartbreakingly written "Something Wonderful," it was the one moment in the show I found myself getting chills.  Kudos to Miles for delivering what I found to be the night's most captivating moment.

Throughout the first act of The King and I -- a musical with which I was completely unfamiliar prior to heading up to NYC -- I found myself rather enthralled by the proceedings with a nice mix of clever songs (a melange of ballads, humorous ditties, and the quintessential "Getting to Know You").  Unfortunately, following the intermission, I felt like the musical didn't hit the right notes.  It's no fault of O'Hara, Lee, or Miles or even director Bartlett Sher, but rather the fault of the musical's book which oddly intersperses some disappointing musical numbers with oddly paced drama.  There's not much there to really grab us and reel us in which is a bit surprising since the first act captivates.

Don't mistake that last paragraph for complete distaste in The King and I.  It's a lovely "old school" Broadway musical certainly earning its "classic" status.  It's just not quite a complete piece to me, but Kelli O'Hara, Hoon Lee, and Ruthie Ann Miles are worth the price of admission.

No comments:

Post a Comment