If ever there was a show which personified musical theatre it would undoubtedly be THE KING AND I. Hailed as “the theatrical event of 2018”, the multi-award-winning and critically acclaimed Lincoln Center Theatre production is out on a World Tour direct from its record-breaking sold-out season at The London Palladium and it’s in Cardiff right now. Read on and watch our video to see what tonight’s audience thought of the production.

Reprising their critically acclaimed performances in The King And I, West End’s Annalene Beechey and Broadway’s Jose Llana star in the multi-award winning Broadway production. However, we were there on the evening when the Standby Anna took the lead role and we have to tell you, Maria Coyne was terrific and held her own from beginning to end.

Maria Coyne

The greatest musical from the golden age of musicals – with one of the finest scores ever written including; Whistle a Happy Tune, Getting to Know You, and Shall We Dance, and featuring a company of over 50 world-class performers and a full-scale orchestra. This is a huge production.

When you come to a show like The King And I you not only expect perfection but pretty much know that’s what you’re going to get. This weepingly romantic production has all the lavish pleasures of the 1956 Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. But banish all comparisons to the movie. The story and songs remain the same. The design and costumes are as splendid as any stage production has ever been. But with all that, the show somehow feels fresh and incredibly relevant but always familiar.

Photo – Johan Persson

Maybe it’s the gender issue which is discussed between the three main female characters which makes it so. You never feel they’re beating the point home but in a very different world we live in now, this certainly hits a chord.

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Simply put, this is one of the most elegantly performed, beautifully staged musicals you will ever see. The singing is pitch perfect, the King of Siam, played brilliantly by Jose Llana, is as funny and slightly menacing as you want him to be. The children are a delight, as the collective ‘Ah’ when they appeared on stage confirmed. And the orchestra under the conductorship of Malcolm Forbes-Peckham also shone through.

Don’t only take our word for it though, this is what the audience thought at the end of the show.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness this glorious production, as you have never seen it before. Now that’s a big claim to make, but take it from the person writing this, that you do not want to miss it. I did once and have regretted it ever since. Sharing the story with you will make me look idiotic, but here goes.

Many years ago, as a young enthusiastic entertainment journalist I got to work on some of the biggest shows and with the best pop bands around. So, off I go to London for a few days work, armed with a ticket to see YUL BRYNNER playing the King of Siam at the London Palladium. Not just the original movie star but also VIRGINIA MCKENNA as Anna. This was the real deal at the time.

While I was in London I was also given a ticket to see the group Supertramp on the same evening. Now, in my defence, they were big news at the time – honestly. In any case, long story short. I flipped a coin, Supertramp won and I gave up my ticket to see one of the greatest musicals of all time, with the original movie cast. To make it worse, that picture above, was taken on the very evening I should have been there. Feel free to mock me when you see me at the show.

Starring in this lavish production are ANNALENE BEECHLEY as Anna and JOSE LLANA as the King of Siam.

Annalene has done everything from recording, concert work and a list of theatre credits as long as the dress she wears during the show. The King and I (London Palladium), Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (BBC Proms Royal Albert Hall), Miss Chasum in the World Premiere of Alan Ayckbourn/Dennis Kings’ Awaking Beauty (Stephen Joseph, Scarborough), Annette in the World Premiere of Boublil/Schonberg/Legrand’s Marguerite opposite Ruthie Henshall (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Pat Collins in the World Premiere of Moon Landing (Derby Playhouse).

Jose is not only a best selling recording artist but his Broadway credits include: Chip Tolentino in The 25th Annual Putnam Country Spelling Bee (Circle in the Square – Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Ensemble Performance), El Gato in Wonderland (Marquis Theatre)Wang Ta in Flower Drum Song (Virginia Theatre), Angel in RENT (Nederlander Theatre), Jessie-Lee in Street Corner Symphony (Brooks Atkinson Theatre) and his Broadway debut as Lun Tha in The King & I (Neil Simon Theatre). 

The entire cast and creative crew is enormous but then a production of this scale needs it. Just take a look at the video below and you’ll see what we mean……..

If you’d like to have a listen to the complete 2015 Broadway Cast Recording, just to get you in the mood, go here. SOUNDTRACK

When the show was at the London Palladium they filmed a performance, which has been doing the rounds at some special event screenings. The video below gives you a behind the scenes look at how they set about filming such a big production.

After all that, I know this is a show a show you won’t want to miss, I know we don’t. THE KING And I gets to the Wales Millennium Centre from the 8th to 18th January. Tickets start at £18.50, for more details and to get yours, go here. KING

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