The King and I UK Tour Review - Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

There is something I am loving at the moment about theatre. Whilst I love new shows and emerging talented playwrights, I am also loving the revivals and remakes of classic shows that have engaged and entertained audiences for generations. 

Whilst The King and I is not a show that I would normally jump to see, and a film that I haven’t seen since I was a teenager, I had heard nothing but wonderful things about it’s revival. From the gorgeous scenery, to the tremendous acting, there is nothing like sitting in a theatre and being whisked away to the sounds of classic Rodgers & Hammerstein. 

The King and I follows the tale of Anna, a widowed mother who whisks her son off to Siam to become a teacher to the King’s many children. Upon arriving, Anna soon realises that the clash of cultures works against her as she strives to win over the hearts of the community whilst upholding her strong morals. Along the way a friendship blooms and both Anna and the King of Siam learn that they can work together to create a society that is wholly better than the one that was originally created. Albeit with some stumbling blocks along the way. Whilst some of the story does feel a tad out of touch and dated, you can’t help but love the perfect balance of humour and sincerity that is on stage. 

Set against a striking backdrop that was vibrant and ever changing, you can’t help but feel transported from the moment you enter the theatre. The costumes whisk you away to an era of hooped petticoats and corsets galore, whilst the residents of Siam’s clothing was full of colour and traditionalism. I was blown away by some of the masks used in the second half and impressed that the cast managed to dance whilst wearing such staggering headgear. 

The show is rich in both acting and singing and I was overwhelmed by the talent that graced us up on stage. Annalene Beechey blew me away as Anna Leonowens, the teacher who isn’t afraid to it her foot down and stand up for what’s right. I loved her resilience on stage and thought her chemistry with Darren Lee, who played the King of Siam was perfect. Their humour and seriousness both complimented each other and they were the perfect pairing. I was blown away by the vocal talent of Marienella Phillips who played Tuptim. She commanded the stage each time she entered and her voice was beyond stunning. 

The children’s casting was absolutely brilliant and I loved the way that they all got a turn to showcase their talents and personality on stage. Whilst most made their professional debut in this tour, it’s promising to see such wonderful young talent grace the stage. The children’s team was led by Caleb Lagayan, who whilst not a child himself played the eldest of the King’s children, Chulalongkorn. His voice was powerful, his performance unmissable, and he truly shone on the stage. 

Overall The King and I was a show that I honestly didn’t expect to love as much as what I did. The swooping classic songs mixed with the brilliant talent on stage made for an unforgettable night full of vibrant performances and brilliant singing. It’s a show that seems to have stood the test of time and is here to stay, and is one that I can highly recommend you dance your way to the theatre to see. 

On at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton until 17th June, before continuing on a UK tour, you can find out more about The King and I by following the links below. 

The King and I Musical

The King and I Mayflower Tickets

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