The Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic musical "The King and I" has landed at the Birmingham Hippodrome this week transporting audiences to Siam with a strong company, tight vocals and even tighter choreography.
David Needham's contemporary Asian inspired choreography is a wonder to watch and is brought to life on stage by a company made up of international dancers. Dare I say this is some of the most interesting choreography I've seen in musical theatre for a long time? Meanwhile, Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic score resonates through the theatre via a live orchestra presented onstage. I had forgotten how lush this score was until I heard some of the most iconic musical theatre songs sung with such passion and control with a wonderful orchestra as the underpinning of the show. Although the set was slightly lacking an "oomph" factor, two giant Buddha's and sliding panels worked well to set the scenes.
Josefina Gabrielle (Anna) and Ramon Tikaram (The King) keep the show churning as they develop the plot with hilarious delivery of dialogue having the audience chuckling along throughout. Their comedic playing is only upstaged by the dramatic ending and their scenes together the last twenty minutes of the musical. Gary Wood as Prince Chululongkorn is captivating to watch as he watches his father dying. A strong company all round, the show's casting director got it perfect.
Originally I wasn't expecting to enjoy this show, a three hour classical musical that I've never been to keen on doesn't seem like the most appealing way to spend an evening, however, my preconceptions were soon diminished when I saw the skill, passion and talent behind this production. It's three hours of what musical theatre should and puts a lot of shows out there to shame... An enjoyable night for anyone.