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  • review by Graeme Logan

King and I - Edinburgh Playhouse - Review

We all remember the film the King and I with the music from Rodgers and Hammerstein, where this week we are given a chance to recall the stage version at the Edinburgh Playhouse.We are prepared to be transported to Siam where the King is fearful of being thought barbaric, and engages an English teacher to educate his many wives and numerous children.

Anneleene Beechey plays Anna the schoolteacher who dares to stand up to the monarch, and it is easy to see why the production has been acclaimed on Broadway with a Tony and at the London Palladium where it was a sell-out success. Beechey’s perfect voice opens the show and her performance was fantastic. This will continue touring for at least many months to come. The costumes that we see Beechey wear, must weigh dozens of kilos putting more pressure on her.

The leading role is one forever linked to Hollywood star Yul Brynner and must be hard for anyone to step into, but Jose Llana does so with charisma.

His expressions, his singing and his whole presence were key to the success of the musical which contains so many well-known numbers, and he continues to play the role with the same energy on this UK tour. Songs include Whistle a Happy Tune, Getting to Know You, and Shall We Dance with a company of over 50 world-class performers and accompanied by a full-scale orchestra.

They are very ably supported by those playing other roles such as Cezarah Bonner as Lady Thiang, Ethan Le Phong as Lun Ta and Paulina Yeung as Tuptim who are truly not the only ones worthy of mention, but it would be foolhardy to try and recite the whole cast here!

All of the royal children are totally enchanting , it is lovely to see and hear that two of the members of the cast come from Performing Arts in Edinburgh.

The show runs at the Playhouse until the 26th October.

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