This year, The Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham will be hosting the ultimate in classic musicals when ‘The King and I’ opens in December. The show will have an all star cast, with Jose Llana reprising his Broadway role as the King, and West End star Annalene Beechey once again playing Anna. Last week I went along to the official launch, where we were treated to live performances of some of those wonderful songs in the Alex’s lovely Piano Bar, and learned a little about the show.
There is a lot of excitement about this show coming to Birmingham, as Jose explained that the script has returned to the original script, from before the success of the 1950s film, in order to bring some of the politics back to the fore, that Anna is almost invited to Siam as a foreigner as a way of warding off a foreign invasion. In this way, the story still has a great relevance today.
Both Jose and Anna remembered the film from when they were children and say that is one of the things that continues to draw people to the show. It is a family show that does span the generations and older generations like to watch and share it with their own children and grandchildren.
Of course, there is also the opulence of the show, and, in particular, of the ‘Shall We Dance’ dress. There was artwork showing the design of the dress, which is spectacular, weighing in at 3 stone. Annelene has to get ready in the wings for this scene as the dress will not fit into the dressing room, she has christened the dress Bertha, and says it is weighted in the hem so it dips and lifts effortlessly in the scene.
A huge part of The King and I are the children of the King. In this performance they range from aged 6 upwards and have to travel with the show. Jose explained that the children join the cast before each show for the vocal warm up, that they are true professionals. Annalene agreed and said the children seem to make the adults behave better both on and off the stage.
The King and I opens in Birmingham on December 10th 2019.
For ticket information click here.