Lincoln Center Theatre’s spectacular Tony award-winning production of “The King and I” features Broadway’s brightest stars singing some of Rogers and Hammerstein’s most beloved classics, such as “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello Young Lovers,” and “Getting To Know You,” among other favorites. Directed by Bartlett Sher, sumptuous costumes (Catherine Zuber) and magnificent sets (Michael Yeargan) entice viewers into entering the Kingdom of Siam as the dramatic tale unfolds.
Widowed English schoolteacher, Anna Leonowens (Kelli O’Hara) travels to Siam to serve as a tutor at the royal court. As part of the King’s (Ken Watanabe) attempts to modernize his country, he wishes Anna to impart the best of Western culture to her students. The King, however—trying desperately to navigate a changing world—wrestles with the new ideas she introduces while also clinging fiercely to traditional ways.
Park and Ricamora deliver a magical rendition of ‘I Have Dreamed.’
When Siam’s independence is threatened by European powers, Anna, at the insistence of the King’s first wife, Lady Thiang (Ruthie Ann Miles), guides the King in his attempts to save the country’s sovereignty. Along the way, the two establish an enduring friendship that survives conflict, contention, and seemingly insurmountable cultural differences.
Ideally suited to their roles, O’Hara (Anna) and Watanabe (The King) deliver unforgettable performances. Also notable for their dramatic gifts and vocal talent are Miles (Lady Thiang), Ashley Park (Tuptim, the King’s youngest wife) and Conrad Ricamora who plays Lun Ta, the man Tuptim is desperately in love with, much to the King’s dismay. Park and Ricamora deliver a magical rendition of “I Have Dreamed.”
Truly a feminist icon, Anna continually nudges the King as well as his multiple wives and children to see the equal worth and dignity of women, a concept he does not entirely embrace, but one that she moves forward by modeling a life of independence and self-sufficiency along with her unrelenting insistence that the King treat her, a woman, with respect.
Themes of change, uncertainty, and the willingness to learn weave themselves through ‘The King and I.” Conflict and tragedy enter the story, but so do noble characters who do what they believe is right according to the knowledge and resources they possess. And although the King struggles, he also listens and grows, and the future of Siam is brighter for it.
Running time: 2 hours and 39 minutes with no intermission
“The King and I” streamed online Friday, May 8 at 8:00 p.m. on BroadwayHD. The production will be available to the public free of charge through May 11. To view the performance, click here.