After a fantastic opening night, The King & I looks set to become a West End smash-hit. Reviews are pouring in, hailing it as a five star unmissable show. From The Box Office blogger Kennedy Porter was lucky enough to see the production during previews and has written us our very own review.
Heart-warmingly nostalgic are the two words that predominantly stuck with me after seeing this incredible adaptation of the classic film. Having never actually seen the film, I wasn’t sure if I would experience the full effect of the magic or understand the humour, however I wasn’t just pleasantly surprised, but genuinely blown away.
Kelli O’ Hara is sensational as Anna, perfectly capturing the essence of a woman who is not afraid to stand for what she believes in. Vocally, her performance is stunning, reminiscent of Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins, which only adds to her charming air and the heart-warming feel of the production as a whole.
The chemistry between O’ Hara and Watanabe simmers from the moment they first share the stage, building subtly with every scene, right up until the explosive climax between Anna and the stubborn King. Even as he lies weakened by illness, it seems as though the final ounces of strength that he needs come from the fire that she ignites within him.
Of course, the King and Anna aren’t the only ones involved in a complicated relationship. The show’s young lovers, Dean John-Wilson (Lun Tha) and Na-Young Jeon (Tuptim), both shine as young souls separated by old traditions and provide a Romeo and Juliet-esque tragedy that will bring tears to your eyes and have you cursing the powers that be for daring to keep them apart.
Ken Watanabe is nothing short of spectacular. From humorous confusion to intimidating, domineering and child-like stubbornness, there is no moment in which his performance doesn’t demand your complete attention, just as you would expect from a King.
Overall, this new production of a classic tale ticks every box, even the ones that you wouldn’t have thought you wanted ticked. It’s funny and light-hearted, and provides a comic look at outdated attitudes that you’ll realise still exist even today, all while also being intense and suspenseful. It will make you laugh, it will melt your heart, it will dazzle you. In short, it’s sensational.
If you don’t have plans to see The King and I, you need to change your plans as soon as possible. It’s two delightful hours of light-hearted humour and touching romance that will leave you feeling nostalgic and like a child all over again.
Have you seen the show already? Sound off in the comments and let us know what you thought!