On Tuesday night I left Hull New Theatre on cloud 9 and with a skip in my step – I had seen my first show of the year (The King and I) and what a glorious evening it was. I was so so happy!
As we rushed back to the car in the freezing chill of a February night, I could barely contain my joy and could be heard singing “Shall we dance” and wishing I could break out into some kind of accpetable dance routine at 10.30pm in Hull City Centre! I really did enjoy the most wonderful evening with my sister in a fully packed audience of all ages, blown away by the absolutely spectacular performance of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.
It was so beautiful, witty, charming and filled both our hearts with great joy to see this much loved classic brought to life on stage by a super talented cast.
I have fond memories of the king and I – watching it with my sisters at our grandparents house and then at our own home too. Being a house of girls we lapped up most musicals and this was most definitely a favourite! I don’t know how many times we would sing it’s songs or get up in each others faces and quote our favourite line’s (including) “moses, moses, moses” and “etcetera, etcetera, etcetera” and then fall about laughing (my sister will confim I got up close and whispered the moses line right before it was said on Tuesday – Oh yeah! still got it!).
The king and I is an absolute classic that brings joy across the generations and to say I was excited to see it live on stage on Tuesday night would be an understatemnet. I however, never anticipated just how incredible it would be. From start to finish I was captured into a sense of awe and nostalgia and haven’t yet dropped back to earth – it was precisely my cup of tea!
The King and I needs no introduction, but if you are a musical lover like me and aren’t familiar with it, then it tells the story of an unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens – a British schoolteacher whom the modernist King, in an imperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children. It is set in 1860’s Bangkok, so naturally has some fabulous costumes, clash of cultures and wonderful old English accents!
It opened with an impressive steam roller boat and we were all instantly blown away; both by the set and then quickly with the beautiful voice of Annalene Beechey as she sang “Whistle a happy tune” (one of many stunningly beautiful songs performed throughout). It was right at this moment that I was captivated by her and could quite possible say she is one of my favourite actresses I have seen on stage. She played the part of Anna tremendously well and her performance alongside Darren Lee (King of Siam) was truly outstanding. Together they were charming, whitty and in several places it was like they had been handpicked out of my childhood VHS and popped right there before my eyes – amazing!
Of course this review would not be complete without telling you about the brilliant performances by the cast of children too – they were so cute, funny and performed wonderfully too. The masks in the second half were also astounding, and the orchestra simply magnificent. The King and I has one the finest scores ever written including: Whistle a Happy Tune, Getting to Know You and Shall We Dance and these and more were sang and played beautifully.
* I received complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review