Mayans

Mayans

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Shall We Dance?


(image from the web)


Last night some friends and I went to the Palace Theater in downtown Cleveland's Playhouse Square to see a performance of the Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammersteins's "The King and I".   For those who are not familiar with this classic musical, it is based on the true story of a British woman, Anna Leonowens, who in the 1860s was employed by the King of Siam as a teacher for the royal children and wives.  It is filled with familiar songs such as "I Whistle a Happy Tune", "Hello, Young Lovers", "Getting to Know You", and the showstopper "Shall We Dance?".

The original Broadway show premiered in 1951 and starred the English actress Gertrude Lawrence as Anna and newcomer Yul Brynner as the King.  The role catapulted Brynner to stardom, garnered him a Tony Award, and was arguably the greatest of his career.

(image from the web)
 
Brynner reprised the role in the 1956 Hollywood film version with Deborah Kerr as Anna, and he won the Academy Award as best actor.  In 1985, months before his death, he won another Tony for his performance in a Broadway revival.

Last night's show was performed by the national touring company of the Broadway revival which in 2015 won four Tony Awards.  It was a beautiful production.  Laura Michelle Kelly, who plays Anna, reminded me very much of Deborah Kerr in the motion picture.  However, unlike Kerr, who was not a singer and whose songs were dubbed, Kelly has a wonderful singing voice.  Manna Nichols, who played the slave girl Tuptim, stood out with her operatic voice.  The King was played by Filipino-American actor Jose Llana.  He was excellent, although any actor who plays that role stands in the shadow of Yul Brynner.  Let's face it, Brynner will always be the King.      

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