REVIEW: The King and I (London Palladium) ★★★★

It’s always interesting returning to a production. And when you get to see a character portrayed by a different performer, it makes the experience all the better, especially when it’s a Tony Award winner.

It was therefore with enthusiasm that I returned to the London Palladium to see Ruthie Ann Miles play Lady Thiang in the celebrated Lincoln Center production of The King and I. Miles, who played the role on Broadway and won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, missed the opening of the show in London due to a family tragedy but has since joined the cast to share the role with Naoko Mori.

And it’s clear as to why Miles has previously been showered with praise with a portrayal that’s simply stunning. It’s a tricky character to get right and often the head wife is seen as the villain of the piece, but Miles manages to show the motivation behind her actions and therefore evoke empathy from the audience. When she is off main focus, her commitment to the characterisation provides a masterclass in stage acting.

Quite apart from being mesmerised by Ruthie Ann Miles, I was again taken with by the splendour of the production. Visually stunning with a cast, including the wonderful Kelli O’Hara and the masterful Ken Watanabe, it is a really beautiful version of the classic musical.

Reviewed by Nicky Sweetland
Photo: Paul Kolnik


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