The King and I @ London Palladium

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Tickets and more information:
Running until: 29th September 2018
Production Photos by: Matthew Murphy

A classic musical that I haven’t had the chance to catch on stage until now, The King and I follows a British woman named Anna who heads to Siam to become the new school teacher for the King’s royal children. With a stunning score by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Bartlett Sher’s gorgeous production which won 2015 Best Musical Revival at the Tonys for it’s Broadway run is an absolute must see before it’s gone.


Reprising her Tony award winning turn as Anna is Broadway alum Kelli O’Hara. As soon as I saw she was coming over with the show, I knew I had to buy a ticket. Having had a lengthy career of Broadway shows on her CV, this is her first time performing in the West End. And what a debut it is. The score perfectly highlights her gorgeous soprano voice which goes hand in hand with how strong minded and open Anna is, making a 21st century heroine out of a 1950s musical character. And, considering she’s from the US, her English accent was pitch perfect making her portrayal all the more authentic.


Alongside her is Academy award nominee Ken Watanabe as the King, also reprising his role from the Broadway production and also making his West End debut. Both Watanabe and O’Hara have lovely chemistry together, something that’s vital in bringing Anna and the King’s friendship alive. I adored the scenes they had together and the 11 o’clock number Shall We Dance was a particular highlight for me. Stand out performances from the supporting cast include NaYoung Jeon who was amazing as Tuptim. Not only does she have an incredible voice but her storytelling was particularly strong, especially druing The Small House of Uncle Thomas. Tuptim’s storyline with Lun Tha was sweet to watch and she had great chemistry with Dean John Wilson but I did find she was stronger on her own. Another stand out performance was Naoko Mori as Lady Thiang, who delivered a great performance that toed the line between defensive & jealous and open & loving towards the King’s other children and wives.


The costumes designed by Catherine Zuber were so stunning, particularly the dresses that Anna wore – although I did find myself worrying the size of them were going to wipe the smaller children off the stage! Christopher Gattelli’s choreography, based on the original choreography by Jerome Robbins, was beautiful and really shined during the ballet section of The Small House of Uncle Thomas.

The King and I - Credit Matthew Murphy 2

Overall, I really enjoyed this production. Bartlett Sher’s Tony Award winning production is worth seeing while we still play host to it here in London. Not only are we lucky to have Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe in London, but we are lucky to have another Broadway hit from Bartlett Sher in London. Definitely, catch it while you can.

Until next time,



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