It's Thursday on Midday, and time for another of J. Wynn Rousuck's weekly reviews of regional theater. Today, she spotlights the new traveling revival of The King and I. The new show is based on the 2015 Tony Award-winning Lincoln Center Theater production, and it's now on stage at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre.
The fifth of the many great musicals by the collaborative team of Richard Rodgers (composer) and Oscar Hammerstein II (librettist/lyricist), The King and I was adapted from Margaret Landon's novel, Anna and the King of Siam (1944), which itself drew on the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. Anna is a British schoolteacher hired to teach in Bangkok, Siam (now Thailand), as part of the King's drive to modernize his country. Anna and the King form a tense and complicated relationship: a clash of West and East as much as a love neither believes they can acknowledge.
The King and I world-premiered on Broadway in 1951, with a young TV actor named Yul Brynner playing the King - a role he would dominate on stage and screen for the next three decades. The musical's score is replete with such enduring classics as “Getting To Know You,”“I Whistle a Happy Tune,”“Hello Young Lovers,”“Shall We Dance” and “Something Wonderful.” The play ran for nearly three years, making it the fourth longest-running Broadway musical in history at the time, and it's had many tours and revivals since.
The creative team for the new touring revival includes direction by Shelly Butler, based on Bartlett Sher’s original direction, and features performances by Pedro Ka'awaloa as the King of Siam and Angela Baumgardner as Anna Leonowens. Choreography is by Christopher Gattelli, based on the original choreography by Jerome Robbins.
The King and I continues at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre through Sunday, February 24.
Audio of this program will be available by 5pm today.