The Grand Spectacle of The King and I at Dominion Theatre

March 1, 2024

As it wraps off its UK tour at the Dominion Theatre in London's West End, the beloved musical The King and I never fails to enthrall audiences. This production of Rodgers and Hammerstein, directed by Bartlett Sher, is certainly a hit with its catchy tunes and plot, which is based on the memoirs of Anna Leonowens.

Photo credits: Matthew Murphy

The story, which is set in the 1860s, centers on Anna, a widowed mother who takes on the role of educator for the King's many wives and children. As they work through their disparities in leadership style and way of life, Anna and the King's complicated relationship is characterized by growing mutual respect and disagreements.

Photo credits: Matthew Murphy

The Broadway version of The King and I, directed by Bartlett Sher and based on the 1951 musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, combines troubling topics with nostalgic elements. The protagonist of the tale is a British woman named Anna Leonowens, who arrives in Thailand to teach the royal children. With its brilliant gem-toned décor and lighting, the production—which has already appeared in the West End and on tour—presents a visually breathtaking spectacle.

Photo credits: Matthew Murphy

The play takes a cautiously feminist stance, portraying women as the moral center of the narrative and clever characters. Layers to the plot are added by Marienella Phillips's portrayal of Tuptim, the newest wife, and Cezarah Bonner's portrayal of the king's first wife. King Mongkut is portrayed by Darren Lee as having a lioness presence along with undertones of mischief, and there is tension in their relationship as well as an undercurrent of unspoken attraction.

The King and I truly shines as a fun and entertaining theatrical experience that captivates the audience with its exceptional music, clever set design, and vibrant costumes. The play masterfully transports us to the heart of Thailand, where the set and costume designers have outdone themselves in creating an immersive atmosphere. The intricate Thai dancing during the play-within-a-play is a visual treat, keeping the viewers engaged throughout.

The outstanding performance of the portrayal of the King is nothing short of spectacular. His ability to balance humor, timing, and a convincing accent brings the character to life in a way that evokes sympathy and admiration. The audience is treated to a remarkable portrayal of the King's growth and dedication to his nation, making it a standout performance in the play.

Photo credits: Matthew Murphy

Helen George, who is most recognized for her role in "Call the Midwife," is paired with Broadway star Darren Lee, and she delivers a strong performance. On stage, they click well and portray the complex relationship between Anna and the King well. George's performance of songs like "Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?" adds depth to the production because of her amazing range and talent.

Anna is compellingly portrayed by Helen George, who captures her nervousness and confidence in her interactions with the monarch and his court. Without a doubt, the musical pieces are captivating, and Sher's understanding of the relationship between power and song gives the performance more depth. The show's visual attractiveness is further enhanced by the clothes, which were designed by Catherine Zuber.

Photo credits: Matthew Murphy

The King and I causes discussions on the importance of cultural sensitivity and knowledge in storytelling, in addition to providing a blend of classic songs and enthralling performances. The play, which is based on Margaret Landon's book: Anna and the King of Siam, centers on George's character, Anna Leonowens, who travels to Thailand in the middle of the 19th century to teach the king's wives and children. There is a lot of tension in the characters' early exchanges.

Photo credits: Matthew Murphy

After all this time, the show is unique. The song renditions are enjoyable, and the musical arrangements are masterfully done. Their on-stage chemistry is enhanced by Darren Lee's portrayal of the insecure but inquisitive king, which makes their scenes entertaining. In addition, the production's visual grandeur is mesmerizing.

Photo credits: Matthew Murphy

But there's a lot about the show's political components that should be improved. Despite their attempts to critique imperialism, Rodgers & Hammerstein ironically present Anna as a modern figure in the midst of the king's wives, who are essentially ornamental.

Find out more

Related Posts

Stay in the know

Get a digest of what's new and exciting from us

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form