The roots run very deep for the The King and I starting with the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the 1860s. Those compelling memoirs were molded into the novel Anna and the King of Siam, written by Margaret Landon in 1944.
By 1951 the Rogers and Hammerstein Tony Award winning Broadway hit The King and I was launched. Since then the story has been told many times on Broadway, London’s West End and on national U.S. tour. Only last year The King and I again hit the stage on Broadway and now it is again on tour and has arrived at The Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, California. And what a beautiful and compelling show it is.
Set in Siam, now known as Thailand, in the early 1860’s, King Mongkut was a forward looking monarch but bound in deep tradition. To help his beloved Kingdom of Siam move into a more progressive and scientific future King Mongkut invited British schoolteacher Anna to his Bangkok Palace to help educate his children in ways of the modern Western world. But the good King was not fully prepared for all of what that meant, including at the very least a bit more respect for if not exactly equality for the Siamese women. As the story plays out a series of conflicts between the King and Anna so does an emerging mutual respect possibly leading to love?
Anyone even slightly familiar with the history of The King and I will recall that Tony and Academy Award winning actor Yul Brynner dominated the lead role of King Mongkut both on stage and on screen. So it was only natural to wonder about how the current lead Jose Llana would measure up. The simple but true answer is that Jose is spectacular as is his costar Laura Michelle Kelly.
And then there is that amazing string of unforgettable songs. “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello, Young Lovers” and “Getting to Know You” to name but three. It is all here right now at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Prepare yourself for magical tour back in time when cultures clash and yet love wins the day.
The King and I is at the Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90028 now through January 21st 2017. Show times are Tuesday through Fridays at 8: p.m., Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 1:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Top photo by LosAngeleTheatre.com
Ron Irwin was born in Chicago, Illinois a long time ago. He served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, became a trial lawyer, TV and radio host, CEO of a public company and once held an Emmy. He never won an Emmy he just held one. Ron has written and published twelve books. His most important book to date is “Live, Die, Live Again” in which Ron tells of his early life and his unexpected and very temporary death in 2012. That experience dramatically refocused his life and within the pages of that book Ron reveals how he achieved a much healthier life, ridding himself of Diabetes, Cancer and Heart Failure. Now Ron enjoys writing about many things including health topics, travel [he has circled the globe several times], adventure, culinary experiences and the world of performing art. Ron’s motto is “Live better, live longer and live stronger because it feels great and annoys others.” Contact the author.