When a show is perfect all you can do is praise every part of the production and this Broadway revival of 2015, now at the Broward Performing Arts Center, is perfect.
Rodgers and Hammerstein have written many award-winning musicals but their music (Rodgers) and lyrics (Hammerstein) for “The King and I” are one of their best without one single less than memorable song from “I Whistle A Happy Tune”, “We Kiss In A Shadow”, “Hello Young Lovers”, “A Puzzlement”, “Something Wonderful” to the moment of emotion that brings everything together in “Shall We Dance” and that Is only part of the score. Imagine being moved by children marching on stage as you will be during “March of the Siamese Children”.
The book, written by Hammerstein, based on the novel Anna and The King of Siam by Margaret Landon, is strong dealing with race, gender, sex, love, and politics among other subjects with both humor and drama.
The choreography by Christopher Gattelli, based on the original work of Jerome Robbins, melds with the restaging by Shelley Butler of the 2015 revival by Bartlett Sher becoming one. The sets by Michael Yeargan, with one exception which isn’t noticeable if you didn’t see this in Miami in 2017, along with the costumes by Catherine Zuber add to each scene.
The most important assets to “The King and I” are the performers of music and with Angela Baumgardner as Anna and Pedro Kaawaloa as the King both making their national tour debuts in the roles it is like discovering gold on the stage of the Broward Performing Arts Center with both singing, acting and dancing without a flaw. Just hearing her sing “Hello Young Lovers” will bring tears to your eyes in the reprise while you will be laughing at her rendition of “Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?”. Kaawaloa had the audience in the palm of his hand singing “A Puzzlement” and in his heart as he dances with Anna to “Shall We Dance?”.
As hard as it is to stand out as a singer with this group Paulina Yeung as Tuptim singing “We Kiss in a Shadow” and “I Have Dreamed” whether with Dongwoo Kang as Lun Tha, her secret lover, or a solo has a soaring pure voice that will make you melt. Deanna Choi as the King’s head wife, Lady Thiang, singing “Something Wonderful” will make you swear that Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote it just for her to sing.
The ensemble ranging from the young Royal Children who are the definition of cute to the King’s heir apparent plus the Royal Wives along with Hayden Bercy as Anna’s son and others playing adult roles are just right.
There can’t be enough praise for the 16 involved in “The Small House Of Uncle Thomas” ballet while the same can be said of the orchestra under the direction of Conductor David Aaron Brown.
This touring company of “The King and I” is a must-see of this season so be sure to see it when it comes to your town!
Playing time is 2 hours and 50 minutes with a 20-minute intermission and started at exactly 8 PM.