The King and I | Bord Gais Energy Theatre
Star Rating: 3/5
23 May 2012 The King & I - Bord Gáis Energy Theatre
Review by: David O'Shaughnessy
Rodgers & Hammerstein have a reputation for schmaltz. The Sound of Music, South Pacific and Oklahoma! to name but a few all have qualities of sentimentalism that can be quite heavily laid on in the wrong hands. Yet some of these musicals are favourites amongst musical theatre enthusiasts because, either because of the cast or production that they saw, they walk that fine line between meaningful and sappy, which this production of The King & I dances around quite capably.
Overall a charming, wholesome show, The King & I tells the story of Anna, a recently widowed British teacher, who is hired by the King of Siam to teach his children (67 in number at the shows start) and modernize Siam. The plot is a familiar one, the love/hate relationship between the King & Anna and the conflict of British & Siam cultures and etiquette all providing the comedic backdrop to the inexpressible love that grows between the two throughout the show. Not thoroughly challenging viewing, The King & I has that old-school musical theatre appeal, warm musical numbers like "Getting To Know You" and a parading chorus of enthusiastic children entertaining, but not necessarily leaving you with any sense of awe or deep empathy.
Costumes and staging sumptuous and colourful, all of the cast decked out in borderline ostentatious garments, while two giant gold Buddhas move in and out of scenes behind massive floating panels that frequently cross the stage. Scene transitions and said moving of set is a little too active and distracting at times, taking somewhat from the actors on stage who it feels are being dwarfed by such large features.
Musical theatre veteran Josefina Gabrielle plays Anna in a delightful blend of Katherine Hepburn and Julie Andrews, while her King, Ramon Tikaram, plays with the script in a very self aware fashion, his comedic credits coming to the fore as he finds nuances in the book that connect with the audience every time. The ensemble cast, taking in all the King's wives, children and palace attendants, perform admirably, Claire-Marie Hall as Tup-Tim standing out amongst them with utterly effortless vocals and an engaging performance.
In an age where musical theatre has moved on to a level with explosive set designs, massive dance numbers and belting vocal gymnastics, The King & I is a more tranquil affair, moving along steadily and never getting ahead of itself. Unfortunately these days, the theatre-going public expects more bang for their buck, and while proving an entertaining evenings affair, the lack of big belting numbers and cathartic payoff mean The King & I is an inoffensive and somewhat forgettable show, but a charming show none the less.
The King & I runs until Saturday May 26th in The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. Tickets from €20 available from ticketmaster.ie
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Wednesday 23rd May 2012 | Theatre
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