REVIEW: THE KING AND I (upcoming cinema release) ★★★★★

Barlett Sher’s revival of Rogers & Hammerstein’s The King and I has played at the Lincoln Centre, opened on Broadway in 2015, and wowed UK audiences this year at the Palladium. Though the curtain has come down on the London Palladium’s acclaimed production, those who missed out on London’s hottest ticket still have a chance to see Rogers and Hammerstein’s classic musical in cinemas across the UK.

Based on the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, The King and I recounts the experiences of Anna (Kelli O’Hara), a British schoolteacher hired as part of the King’s drive to modernize his country in the face of imperialist threat.

O’Hara radiates charm and intelligence as Anna, with a voice that soars effortlessly through Rogers and Hammerstein’s beautiful score. Ken Watanabe’s portrayal of the misguided and puzzled King of Siam is captivating throughout. However, both Watanabe and O’Hara are at their best when sparring together on stage, particularly during the timeless number ‘Shall We Dance’.

While past productions have been accused of cultural insensitivity, Sher has managed to somewhat sidestep this issue, pointing out the hypocrisy of western values, particularly in the hilarious number ‘Western People Funny’.

The filming of the production is incredibly well done, managing to showcase the incredible choreography by Christopher Gattelli and the many elaborate costumes designed by Catherine Zuber. A particular highlight is the ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ ballet scene which benefits from being seen from multiple angles.

The camera also manages to pick up on subtle nuances of the piece such as the intensity of the relationship between Ruthie Ann Miles as the matriarch Lady Thiang and Na-Young Jeong as Tuptim, which without the aid of close-ups may have been lost on the audience.

On 29th November, cinemas across the UK will screen The King and I, offering audiences an intimate viewing experience with an incredible cast.

Get your tickets here

Reviewed by Ben McDonald
Photo: Paul Kolinik


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