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King and I
Member Name: Critchyboy
King and I
Date: 31/10/01, updated on 14/01/02 (78 review reads)
Advantages: Great Costumes, Great Songs, Great Venue
I have never seen the film of this show nor had I ever wanted to see it and I only chose to see this show as 'The Beautiful Game' seemed a little depressing for my Christmas treat - the choice had been made and 'The King and I' won.
I went and saw this show last Christmas with the origional cast. It starred Elaine Paige as Anna Leonowens and Paul Nakauchi as the King of Siam. Both of these were excellent, although there wasn't really a song that allowed Elaine to let rip with her voice and so didn't really do her justice, but here perfomance was excellent.
The new leads should be just as good. I know nothing about the new king - thought I'd best be honest rather than pretend to make it up! But I think Josie Lawrence would make a fine Anna. If her performances on the TV show 'Whose Line is it Anyway?' are anything to go by, her singing and acting talents should do her proud in this production.
The story is a simple love story between Anna, who acts as nanny for the king's numerous children and the King himself. There is also a secondary love story and comment on Siam culture between Tuptim and Lun Tha who carry out their affair in secret before being caught and running away after much heartache and more sticky situations than an episode of Neighbours!
The relationship between Anna and the King is pivotal to the story as she challenges and questions his behaviour as King and is, in places, fraught with tension and at other times, lightened by laughter.
There is a saying that goes along the lines of 'never work with children or animals' and with a cast of 10 royal children ranging in ages you could be perfectly within your rights to expect a disaster. But don't panic, the kids I saw were fantastic - well acted and sung and, surprisingly, not at all annoying.
The set is magnificent, although doesn't really take advantage of the Palladium's immense stage. T
he costumes are dazzling and keep very much in vain with the whole Eastern tradition - which is good really seeing as the show is set in Siam! In fact, a lot of the material to make some of the costumes came direct from Bangkok itself!
The best bit of the whole show, however, takes up the majority of the second half. This is 'The Small House of Uncle Thomas' which is a show within the show put on by the King to entertain guests. This portion of the show is worth the ticket price alone. It calls strongly on different aspects of Oriental theatre and dance and is simply mind-blowing. I wanted to see a repeat performance of this section again! The costume and staging of this 'show-ette' is stunning and frequently made my jaw hit the floor!
Overall, this was a very pleasing piece of nostalgic theatre performed by a great cast wearing great costumes and singing catchy songs that you didn't realise you knew.
The show is closing at the Palladium on the 5th January to make way for the new production of 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' so make sure you catch it before it closes. It will be going on a nationwide tour though so don't panic if you can't get to London. It may well be coming to a venue near you. I don't have details of the tour to give you at the moment - sorry about that!
Catch it - now!
The London Palladium Production of 'The King and I' is going on tour, starting in Manchester 21st May - 29th June at the Opera House on Quay Street. Go and see it!