Published, Thursday, November 16, 2011, 5:12 PM
An all-new production of the beloved Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein East-meets-West musical The King and I opens tonight at the Walnut Street Theatre (WST), located at 825 Walnut Street in Center City Philadelphia.
Directed and choreographed by Marc Robin, this production will feature Broadway veteran Rachel York (among other roles, Fantine in Les Misérables, Mallory Kingsley in City of Angels) as Anna Leonowens and Mel Sagrado Maghuyop (who played “The Engineer” — the show’s best role — in the WST’s production of Miss Saigon this past summer) as the King of Siam.
The King and I began previews on Tuesday, November 8 and runs through Sunday, January 8.
In summary, the plot of the show is that British governess Anna is brought into the court of Siam (now Thailand) to tutor the King’s many children. Anna and King warm to each other and to each other’s cultures.
Among the most well-known songs in The King and I are “Getting to Know You,” “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello Young Lovers” and “Shall We Dance.”
The King and I originally opened on Broadway in 1951 and ran for 1,246 performances. The production won five Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Actor (Yul Brynner) and Best Actress (Gertrude Lawrence). The musical was made into a popular film in 1956, for which Brynner won an Oscar for Best Actor.
The story is based on the book Anna and the King of Siam by Magaret Landon, which was derived from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens.
The King and I is the second mainstage production of the WST’s 203rd season. The prior show, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love, was up to the WST’s extremely high production and performance standards. However, this reviewer expects, in a few hours, to enjoy King more than he did Aspects; Aspects just is nowhere near as good a show as Webber’s better-known works (Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cats, Sunset Boulevard).
For tickets and information about The King and I, please call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster. Prices vary by performance and range from $10 to $95, with premium tickets available for $130 (includes a tax deductible donation).