The King and I

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 12 June 2009, opened 13 June 2009, closed 28 June 2009 at the Royal Albert Hall in London

A major revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic musical The King and I in London, fully staged in the round at The Royal Albert Hall.

This spectacular new 'in-the-round' production recreates the lavish Royal Palace in Bangkok within the magical setting of London's Royal Albert Hall. Featuring unforgettable songs like Shall We Dance; I Whistle a Happy Tune; Hello Young Lovers; and Getting to Know You. The cast for this production of The King and I in London stars Daniel Dae Kim as 'The King' and Maria Friedman as 'Anna'.

The King and I has music by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. It is based on Margaret Landon's novel 'Anna and the Kings of Siam'. This production is directed by Jeremy Sams, with designs by Robert Jones, choreography by Susan Kikuchi, lighting by Andrew Bridge and musical direction by Gareth Valentine.

Rodgers and Hammerstein's other West End musicals include Carousel and Oklahoma!. Richard Rodgers' West End musical credits include, with Lorenz Hart, The Boys From Syracuse.

"In the canon of big Broadway musicals, The King And I is, if nothing else, the top textile show... with its 60-odd cast of royal wives, soldiers, servants, dressmakers, sailors, monks and infants, and its exotic Bangkok setting, requires miles of material, and that's without the curtains 'etcetera, etcetera, etcetera,' as the King would say. Raymond Gubbay's opulent production at the Albert Hall certainly puts the fab into fabric, as well as the bang in Bangkok, courtesy of a flurry of fireworks... Indeed, the sheer scale of director Jeremy Sams's extravagant spectacle often sabotages the intimacy of the story. It's hard to suggest crackling chemistry when you're shouting across the length of a tennis court, and the acoustics and miking muffle more than they amplify. Characters look lost and sound lonely. So a patronising tale, already embarrassingly out of date, inevitably becomes even more remote and uninvolving. While this is undoubtedly the weakest of the Rodgers and Hammerstein repertoire, it's still got some meltingly lovely songs: We Kiss In A Shadow, I Have Dreamed, Something Wonderful, and an appropriately mumsy Maria Friedman charms with her warm and witty singing. Something wonderful she is, if not quite wonderful enough to fill this yawning cavern." The Mail on Sunday

The King and I in London at the Royal Albert Hall previewed from 12 June 2009, opened on 13 June 2009 and closed on 28 June 2009.


The King and I with Elaine Paiage / Josie Lawrence 2000

Previewed 18 April 2000, Opened 3 May 2000, Closed 5 January 2002 at the London Palladium

The cast features Elaine Paige as 'Anna' up to Saturday 21 April 2001 with Jason Scott Lee as 'The King' up to Saturday 29 July 2000 and Paul Nagauchi as 'The King' from Monday 31 July 2000 to Saturday 21 April 2001. Josie Lawrence as 'Anna' and Keo Woolford as 'The King' from Tuesday 24 April 2001.

"Shall we dance? Most certainly. The King and I waltzed back to the West End in triumph last night... Yul Brynner won an Oscar for his performance as the ruler of 1860s Siam in the 1956 film version. He also appeared at the London Palladium in 1979, so it was a bold man to follow in his footsteps on the same stage - but Jason Scott Lee and his fine voice was up to the challenge. And Elaine Paige as English governess Anna proves she is the queen of the British stage musical and also shows a delicate comic touch. At 52 she should be better suited to playing mothers not lovers. But she looks a lot younger than her years and is in excellent shape. The show cost £6million to stage and is money well spent. The palace sets are spectacular, the costumes dazzling and the songs a knockout too." The Daily Mirror

"If all you want to do is smile at the spectacle and sing along, then everything is just dandy. Anyone in search of depth, however, will be shortchanged. The problems start in Elaine Paige's first song, the beguiling 'I Whistle a Happy Tune'. She hits the line 'I strike a careless pose' and you realise that this woman has never struck a careless pose in her life. The smile is too fixed, the manner too patronising. It is essential that we believe in a real range of feeling in Anna, but Paige gives us a kind of pay-and-display which leaves us admiring but fatally distant... There is more calm and grace from the Lady Thiang of Taewon Yi Kim, who gives real depth to the great 'Something Wonderful'. The young lovers, too, do well, singing with passion and poise, something of a triumph when you consider that the staging of their big duet runs contrary to the emotional climax of the music they are singing. Lar Lubovitch's choreography is dignified and makes the potentially toe-curling Act Two ballet into a thing of beauty, but, elsewhere, director Christopher Renshaw's production is full of stock gestures instead of real acting." The Independent

"Elaine Paige is a tremendously accomplished musical actress with a marvellous voice. She's particularly good at bringing out the comedy of the situation, never more successfully than when the King keeps insisting his head is always higher than hers - until she is flat on the floor in a sea of pink frills and flounces. But there's something too solid about her. It's not an age thing - Gertie Lawrence, for whom the part was initially written, was 54 and Paige is but 52 - it's about characterisation. This Anna is a brisk, no-nonsense, nanny-knows-best figure... This production, which comes to the West End via Broadway, where it picked up several awards, is a sumptuous affair. There are lavish sets - elephants in scarlet and gold wherever you look - silk and satin costumes embroidered with gold and encrusted with jewels, and a balletic interlude in which Uncle Tom's Cabin is staged with dancing and acrobatics. It's a stunning display. But the experience, in the end, struck me as being precisely that, a ravishing display. It's rather like visiting the state rooms at Buckingham Palace: there are acres of crimson and gilt, and lots of twinkling ornaments, but underlying it all is a slightly disturbing and desperately out of date boast that West is best. Still, for the theatregoers who live in the past, aesthetically and politically, this is a show on which they can gorge themselves." The Mail on Sunday

"Christopher Renshaw's old-fashioned revival has many lavish visual attractions. It's as if a generously funded museum is offering The Rodgers and Hammerstein Experience. It doesn't boldly reinterpret a well-known musical, as Trevor Nunn did with Oklahoma! at the National. Nor is it better than the movie. But in the quality of its designs, costumes and lighting it is first rate. Brian Thomson's splendid sets conjure up a gilt-edged oriental world of saffron and sequins that sparkles and glitters like the show's backdrop of a starry night. Huge red cut-out profiles of the front of elephants line either side of the stage... The real pleasure in the cast was Taewon Yi Kim as Lady Thiang, who made an immediate impact with "Something Wonderful", bringing a force, candour and dramatic intensity, in a soaring operatic voice, that felt as if they came from within the period and the genre. Something wonderful - that was missing elsewhere." The Independent on Sunday

"Elaine Paige presumably can be relied upon to put bums on seats - and there are a great many seats at the London Palladium. Otherwise, it is difficult to understand why she was cast as Anna, the British teacher engaged by the King of Siam to educate his legion of children in Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's classic musical, The King And I. Rather than a prim, upper-middle class governess, Ms Paige comes over like a blowsy music hall star who's arrived in Bangkok straight from playing Widow Twankey in panto. The "Hawaiian-Chinese-American" (programme note) film actor Jason Scott Lee, who played Bruce Lee on screen, displays great authority as the King, although he seems a little too young and needs to work on diction which sometimes made his Siamese accent sound all Chinese to me... The children are charming and the near showstopping performance of Taewon Yi Kim, as the King's head wife, is alone worth the price of a ticket. Christopher Renshaw's traditional production, with sumptuous sets by Brian Thomson, is big and brash and occasionally breathtaking. But something wonderful, it isn't." The News of the World