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BrumHour was invited to the press and gala night of The King and I by The Alexandra.
For Interval Theatre Dave Massey spoke to Annalene Beechey and José Llana from The King and I at The Alexandra.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
The King and I at
Directed by Bartlett Sher, music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Filled with lavish costumes and stunning music, The King and I has arrived at Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre until 4th January, Annalene Beechey stars as Anna who arrives in Siam (now Thailand) to educate the children of the King played by José Llana. Set in the 1860s the story explores themes of Eastern culture versus Western impressions as Anna challenges the King over his attitudes and his desire to fit in with western style ideas.
A large boat appears on stage and then transforms into a docking walkway as Anna arrives in Siam. After this set is a simple coloured background with a grey palace wall, stone-like pillars position themselves to represent different rooms in the palace. Statement furniture fills each room from gongs to the king’s bed and blackboards. The stage floor is a rich looking brown wooden colour.
The costumes, lighting, vocals and the performances all evoke the glamour of old Hollywood’s golden age. Even with a ninety-minute first act, the story zips along at a pace.
The second half has a minor diversion the shape of a ballet version of The Small House of Uncle Thomas aka Uncle Tom’s Cabin narrated by Paulina Yeung as Tupim, a woman who has been gifted to The King of Siam, by she still loves Lun Tha (Ethan Le Phong). Lun Tha’s forbidden romance reflects that of Anna and The King. The King has many wives already and is smitten by this woman with European and Western attitudes.
I’d been waiting to take my mother to see this wonderful production from the moment it was announced and she adored every second of it. I loved the music and underlying romance and the stunning choreography.
Annalene Beechey‘s stunning voice also echos the Golden age of musicals and made me think of the dream like voices of Judy Garland and Julie Andrews.
It is easy to see why this fantastic production has travelled the world and its continued success is very assured.
The King and I is at The Alexandra until 4th January. Book tickets with BrumHour’s affiliate link >> HERE <<.
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When not writing about theatre for BrumHour, or producing Interval Theatre for Brum Radio (Tuesdays 3pm) brumradio.com/intervaltheatre,
Dave Massey can be found eating crisps and tweeting about Birmingham for #BrumHour.