At the opening night of The King And I when the curtain pulled back to reveal a ship sailing onto the stage of the Bord Gais, the woman sitting beside me whispered to her friend, “Now that’s a standing ovation right there.”
Well, if we thought that deserved a standing ovation, what was to follow would blow our minds.
The most popular version of this (deservedly) much celebrated musical about an English woman becoming the governess to the children of the King of Siam is the instantly recognisable 1951 film version starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner. Now, while that all-time classic sets the bar pretty high, the cast and creatives of this touring production acquit themselves more than admirably.
The show details Anna’s arrival in Siam with her son as she prepares to take up her new position as governess and soon becomes a portrait of a growing friendship between two people who couldn’t be more different.
As the King, Jose Llana’s innate warmth radiates meaning that even when the King is at his most tyrannical, you still cannot help but like him – essential for a part that, on paper, presents what can amount to an unlikeable character. Llana’s comic timing is wonderful, leaving the audience in stitches more than once.
Annalene Beechey is a flat-out terrific Anna. Her singing voice is, basically, stunning. When she sang ‘Hello Young Lovers’ there were genuinely goosebumps up and down my arms. The pair shared an incredible chemistry for a relationship that hovers between enemies, friends and, maybe, romance.
Across the board, the performances and vocals from the cast are impressive.
And then there are the songs. In my humble opinion, it’s between The King And I and The Sound Of Music for the greatest Rogers and Hammerstein musical, and song after song, this show proved why. There’s not a dud in the bunch.
Having seen quite a few musicals in the Bord Gais by now, this ranks right at the top. The production was beyond epic. I can only imagine this was an expensive production because, well, it looked expensive.
All in all, the greatest compliment I could pay to this production is I would happily go back and watch it all over again.
I’m not one for a star rating system, but, if I was, I think it’s pretty obvious this is a five star.
Tickets for The King And I are available here.
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