While enjoying the Lincoln Center’s touring production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s The King And I this week at the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music in Philadelphia, I am reminded of some outstanding groundbreaking history associated with this wonderful piece of American musical theater history. This Asian inspired musical is approached with much passion, wit, and poignancy, and houses a score packed with some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century. They have added a tribute to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, with an Asian twist inventively recreated by Choreographer Christopher Gatelli, and Director Bartlett Sherr. This is an American Theater classic.
The company was simply outstanding and the casting of the mostly Asian working union actors was my first pleasure. Bravo Telsey Casting and Actors Equity. Anna played by Laura Michelle Kelly was elegantly represented on stage with nine beautiful costume changes, and an angelic voice. The King brilliantly portrayed by Jose Llana, captured both the regal and the comedic.
The supporting characters of Tuptim and Lun Tha were engaging and completely effective in their roles, played respectively by Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao. With this said, my personal standout was Joan Almedillla as Lady Tiang; so captivating, splendid and moving.
The scenic design while stunningly minimalist proved bold with the creative use of sykes, scrims, drapes and columns enhanced with spot-on lighting. Huge nods to the pit orchestra, and to the Conductor Gerald Steichen, add to the blender, the elegance of The Academy of Music. What A Night!
Don’t miss this American Classic, The King and I at the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music. It runs until April 2, 2017. For more go to www.kimmelcenter.org/about-us/news/the-king-and-i/