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Apr 27, 2019

The King and I Opening Night

Broadway fans hungry for a true classic to close out the 2018-2019 season at the Lexington Opera House will find delight in the lavish and lovely production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I.

While maintaining the nearly seventy-year-old charms of the 1951 original, this latest incarnation puts a new sheen on the proceedings. The 2015 revival presented by Lincoln Center Theatre won multiple Tony Awards and is the basis for this touring production restaged by director Shelley Butler.

Butler has scaled down the elaborate Broadway production to meet the demands of a touring show while maintaining a “bigness” needed to still feel grand in scope and impact.

The show has some issues, but they are relative to the 19th century attitudes presented rather than performances and production value. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s somewhat progressive (for 1951) take on gender roles and multi-culturalism may not be easily accepted by 2019 standards. But that’s always going to be a risk when we bring back Broadway classics onto today’s political stage.

Given all that, there is a moment in the show that feels eerily timely.  “One day I wish to build a fence around Siam!” pronounces the exasperated King, obsessed about foreign meddling. The reaction from the opening-night audience was buzz-worthy.

That’s not what we’re here for, though. Thankfully, the sets are lavish, the costumes are gorgeous, and the performances are excellent.

 The King and I brings classic closure to a delightfully diverse season of Broadway Live at the Opera House.