Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
This tour is of the very successful Lincoln Center Theater production and certainly has a glossy sheen. Personally I have to be careful to separate the show from the production as "The King & I" is not a musical that I particularly enjoy, or rather, its themes and simplistic characterisations can make me uncomfortable. Does it show female empowerment? Western imperialism? A rather patronising view of Eastern cultures?
Despite being (for me at least) a tricky show, it does contain some undeniably beautiful songs and provides chances for some spectacular staging - chances that this production grabs with both hands. Set, staging and costumes (with the exception of Anna's skirts!) are spectacular with the "play within a play" being particularly special. Brian Rivera as the King and Annalene Beechey as Anna work exceptionally well together and both have beautiful voices well suited to Roger and Hammerstein's songs. I particularly enjoyed Cezarah Booner's Lady Thiang and the children were, needless to say, ridiculously cute. Director Bartlett Sher keeps the pace up but despite that, and an interval down to 15 minutes, this is a three hour show.
I think I was won over in the end, not to the plot but certainly to the show and, certainly, this is an enjoyable musical and a great night out