The King and I BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Paul Kolnik
  • NY TIMES

  • TIME OUT

  • HR

  • HUFFPOST

  • NBC

Opening Night:
April 16, 2015
Closing:
June 26, 2016

Theater: Vivian Beaumont / 150 West 65th Street, New York, NY, 10023

Synopsis: 

Kelli O'Hara and Ken Watanabe star in Lincoln Center Theater's  Broadway revival of The King and I. Set in 1860's 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 imperious King brings to Siam to tutor his many wives and children.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The King and I

    ‘The King and I,’ Back on Broadway

    Ben Brantley

    April 16, 2015: A big, scrupulously detailed 19th-century ship glides toward the audience in the opening moments of Bartlett Sher’s resplendent production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I,” which opened on Thursday night at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. It’s an impressive sight, worthy of every “oooh” it elicits. But its presence wouldn’t count for nearly as much if it weren’t carrying such precious cargo. That’s the determined, hopeful, anxious woman in a hoop skirt who runs onto the deck, toward the ship’s prow, and into our field of vision as if in cinematic close-up. Her name is Anna Leonowens, and she is played, you lucky theatergoers, by Kelli O’Hara. One look at her face, agleam with intelligence and apprehension, and you suspect you’re in the hands of a guide you can trust. Then she starts to sing. And even if the familiar song she delivers (“I Whistle a Happy Tune”) usually makes you cringe, your confidence in her — and the Lincoln Center Theater production in which she appears — starts to soar. It will stay contentedly aloft for the next 2 hours and 50 minutes. As you probably already know, Mrs. Leonowens’s task in this 1951 musical is to educate a passel of royal Siamese pupils in the ways of the West. The job of Ms. O’Hara — and that of Mr. Sher and Ken Watanabe, the commanding Japanese film star who portrays the King of Siam — is to educate 21st-century audiences in the enduring and affecting power of a colonialist-minded musical that, by rights, should probably embarrass us in the age of political correctness.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF The King and I

    'The King and I' Theater review

    David Cote

    April 16, 2015: Lincoln Center Theater's "The King and I" arrives this spring much like the ship Chow Phya heaves into view of Bangkok on the Vivian Beaumont stage: a majestic vessel of excellent construction, expertly piloted and bringing with it many wonderful things—starting with Kelli O'Hara. What's more, in a year of bland nostalgic revivals, this grand and glorious production gives you hope in the nonprofit stewardship of our theatrical heritage. Artistic revolutions and usurpations have shaken Broadway over the decades, but Rodgers and Hammerstein's timeless lessons about empathy and equality bear repeating. Anyone doubtful about another look at the 1951 classic (now in its fourth Broadway revival) should note that its message of female empowerment is no less revolutionary to societies in the Middle East than in its setting, Siam (Thailand) in the early 1860s. That realm is ruled by the dictatorial and spoiled but kindly King (Ken Watanabe), who invites the British Anna (O'Hara) to teach English to his several wives and 77 children. He's blithely patriarchal; she stubbornly insists on being treated with respect; a delicate, wary romance slowly flowers between them.

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  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF The King and I

    Kelli O'Hara reteams with her 'South Pacific' director Bartlett Sher in the evergreen 1951 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical

    David Rooney

    April 15, 2015: The mutual fascination and eternal struggle for understanding across the cultural divide between East and West is played out on a magnificent scale in Lincoln Center Theater's breathtaking revival of "The King and I." As he did with the company's transcendent "South Pacific" seven years ago, director Bartlett Sher banishes even the faintest trace of mid-century quaintness or patronizing exoticism from the material, treating the 1951 Rodgers & Hammerstein classic with unimpeachable dramatic integrity and emotional authenticity that are equaled by this landmark production's exquisite musicianship and vocals. As for the superlative leads, Kelli O'Hara and Ken Watanabe, to say they are outstanding seems almost unfair given the uniform excellence of the massive ensemble. The crippling economics of Broadway have long since ushered in the era of downsized casts and mini-orchestras, so the sheer spectacle value of an opulently costumed 50-member troupe, accompanied by 29 musicians in the pit, is enough to make a musical-theater lover's head explode. But this experience is not simply proof that size matters. It's also about texture. From the pared-down yet richly suggestive set designs of Michael Yeargan — which studiously avoid the kitschy Orientalism of so many revivals — to the nuanced characterizations and abiding preference for controlled, expressive singing over big-belt bravado, this production is a welcome testament to the power of delicacy in the age of the hard sell. I never wanted it to end.

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  • HUFFINGTON POST REVIEW OF The King and I

    R&H Return to Lincoln Center

    Steven Suskin

    April 16, 2015: In a day and age when producers, directors and author's executors think nothing of imposing their so-called artistic vision on Broadway masterworks that were pretty good to begin with, it is heartening to see producers, directors and executors just do the show as written. Lincoln Center Theater and director Bartlett Sher had enormous success in 2008 with their carefully crafted recreation of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "South Pacific", so they have now joined together to do the same with the fabled team's "The King and I." The results, at the Beaumont, leave us shaking our heads in wonderment at just how good this "Something Wonderful" musical is -- although first time viewers are more likely to simply be swept away by the saga of Anna and the King of Siam. "This King and I" is excellent, although it does not soar quite so much as "South Pacific." No matter; full value is given, and it's a treasure to have the show back on the Broadway boards after a seventeen-year absence. The production has the epic sweep that the authors intended, along with all those songs. Mr. Sher and his leading players also investigate undercurrents of romance and physical attraction which were not evident in the original production. (Gertrude Lawrence, who enlisted Rodgers and Hammerstein to write the show for her, was twenty-three years older than her King, Yul Brynner.) Sher enhances these undercurrents, and has his actors act on them. This is not a left-field "improvement," mind you; it is all very much supported in the text.

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  • NBC NEW YORK REVIEW OF The King and I

    O'Hara and Watanabe Lead Respectful Revival of "The King and I"

    Robert Kahn

    April 16, 2015: The astonishing Kelli O’Hara is back on Broadway. This time, she’s leading Lincoln Center’s respectful take on “The King and I,” as schoolteacher Anna Leonowens, who stands up to the ruler of Siam -- here, Oscar-nominee and Broadway newcomer Ken Watanabe. The revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical, set in 1860s Bangkok, has just opened at the Vivian Beaumont with a cast of more than 50. Director Bartlett Sher elicits a performance from O’Hara that is equal parts self-confidence and frustration with the polygamist king, who has not kept his promise to give Anna a private home. (LCT’s resident director most recently guided the five-time Tony nominee in “The Bridges of Madison County”; their history together includes “South Pacific” and “The Light in the Piazza.”) O’Hara's Anna is fiercely determined, if cautious as a newcomer, and it’s thrilling to watch her negotiate the pitfalls involved in establishing herself at court.

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