×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The King and I

"The King and I" at the half-century mark remains one of the most significant glories of the American musical theater. It's a wise choice as the Paper Mill's entry in the Richard Rodgers centennial celebration.

With:
Captain Orton/Sir Edward Ramsey - Robert Stoeckle Louis Leonowens - Gerard Canonico Anna Leonowens - Carolee Carmello Interpreter - Darryl Semira The Kralahome - Hoon Lee The King of Siam - Kevin Gray Lun Tha - Paolo Montalban Tuptim - Margaret Ann Gates Lady Thiang - Sandia Ang Phra Alack - Chris Vasquez Prince Chulalongkorn - Erik Lin-Greenberg Fan dancers - Mayumi Saito, Tran T. Thuc Hanh Princess Yaowlak - Hana Kiyo Yokoi; Juliann Ferro; Cate Leu

“The King and I” at the half-century mark remains one of the most significant glories of the American musical theater. It’s a wise choice as the Paper Mill’s entry in the Richard Rodgers centennial celebration. The timeless tuner boasts both sweep and majesty, and the handsome mounting on the Millburn stage serves as a testimony to the strength and values of this quality regional theater, which is undergoing some financial difficulties and recently ousted its artistic director, Robert Johanson.

Carolee Carmello — late of “Kiss Me, Kate” — is one of the loveliest in a long line of widowed tutors. (Gertrude Lawrence originated the role in 195l, and Gotham followers have included Celeste Holm, Barbara Cook, Rise Stevens, Constance Towers, Angela Lansbury and, most recently, Donna Murphy.) Carmello’s Anna Leonowens has charm and strength. There is an embracing tenderness in her performance, plus comforting maternal wisdom and a spirited strength. She also sings beautifully, and there’s a sweet intimacy in her delivery.

Kevin Gray’s King of Siam has the right balance of bullying royal arrogance and authority, plus a keen touch of condescending warmth and needling humor. Particularly significant is his expansive and witty reading of “A Puzzlement,” the king’s only solo turn.

Sandia Ang as Lady Thiang is impressively regal and maternally wise, making “Something Wonderful” just that. The star-crossed lovers are played by Paolo Montalban and Margaret Ann Gates. In their brief, rushed moments of guarded passion, they deliver two of the most sensuous ballads in the bountiful Rodgers-Hammerstein canon, “We Kiss in a Shadow” and “I Have Dreamed.”

Hoon Lee as the Kralahome is a properly stern and forbidding major domo. A dozen or more tots scurry through the palace, and they are an enchanting asset, with the tiniest royal son always drawing a fond aud response.

The fan dancers are sweetly seductive, a credit to the choreography of Susan Kikuchi, who offers just enough memories of Jerome Robbins’ exotic movement to enchant. In “The Small House of Uncle Thomas,” the ballet parody of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” one finds the inspired Robbins touch relatively intact and timelessly engaging.

The crisp staging by Mark Hoebee harnesses the physical beauty of the production with the flow of the narrative. He has been governed by the score and lets the music flow generously into the hearts of the listener.

Michael Anania’s sumptuous design, especially the glittering gold and crimsons of the throne room, draw considerable oohs and aahs from the house. The costumes, from hoop skirts to the rich Asian fabrics of palace wives and servants, add to the splendor.

Visually, this is a stunning production, and from the start the lovely and infectious Rodgers melodies seduce the listener with an enveloping lilt. Equally important are Oscar Hammerstein’s timeless book and lyrics, which boast grace, wit and poetic grandeur.

The Paper Mill is under fire of late, as the board of trustees has elected to oust Robert Johanson after his 17-year run as artistic director. Johanson is expected to continue on a freelance basis and will helm the season closer, “My Fair Lady,” skedded to open June 5 for six weeks. The board cited escalating budget costs and a severe drop in subscriptions for its unpopular decision. Executive producer Angelo Del Rossi has long been an ardent supporter of Johanson, who helmed several successful productions including a 1993 staging of “The Wizard of Oz,” which transferred to Madison Square Garden, and an acclaimed all-star revival of “Follies” in 1998.

The King and I

Paper Mill Playhouse; Millburn, N.J.; 1,200 seats; $59

Production: A Paper Mill Playhouse presentation of a musical in two acts with music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based on the novel "Anna and the King of Siam" by Margaret Landon. Directed by Mark S. Hoebee. Choreography, Susan Kikuchi; music director, Tom Helm.

Creative: Set, Michael Anania; costumes, Roger Kirk; lighting, F. Mitchell Dana; sound, Duncan Robert Edwards, David F. Shapiro; stage manager, Kevin Frederick. Artistic director, Robert Johanson. Opened, reviewed April 6, 2002. Running time: 2 HOURS, 50 MIN.

Cast: Captain Orton/Sir Edward Ramsey - Robert Stoeckle Louis Leonowens - Gerard Canonico Anna Leonowens - Carolee Carmello Interpreter - Darryl Semira The Kralahome - Hoon Lee The King of Siam - Kevin Gray Lun Tha - Paolo Montalban Tuptim - Margaret Ann Gates Lady Thiang - Sandia Ang Phra Alack - Chris Vasquez Prince Chulalongkorn - Erik Lin-Greenberg Fan dancers - Mayumi Saito, Tran T. Thuc Hanh Princess Yaowlak - Hana Kiyo Yokoi; Juliann Ferro; Cate Leu With: Arcell Cabuag, Cesar Cipriano, Elena Comendador, Vivien Eng, Richard Feng Zhu, Yuka Fakuda, Scott M. Gage, Dam Van Huynh, Kumi Kimura, Leisa Mather, Christina Nuki, Mayumi Omagari, Yuki Ozeki, Bobby Pestka, Adrienne Sam, Desiree Sanchez, Yasushi Tanaka, Lisa Yuen, Greg Zane.

More Legit

  • Dear Evan Hansen

    Broadway Cast Albums Find Fresh Footing With Hip New Sounds, Viral Outreach

    Mixtapes. YouTube videos. Dedicated playlists. Ancillary products. Viral marketing. Epic chart stays. These are things you expect to hear from a record label discussing Cardi B or Beyoncé. Instead, this is the new world of a very old staple, the Broadway original cast recording. Robust stats tell the tale: Atlantic’s “Hamilton” album beat the record [...]

  • Ali Stroker Oklahoma

    Ali Stroker on 'Oklahoma!': 'This Show Doesn’t Follow the Rules and That Is So Who I Am'

    Ali Stroker is no stranger to rewriting history. With her 2015 Broadway debut in “Spring Awakening,” she became the first actor in a wheelchair to perform on the Great White Way. Three years later, she’s back onstage in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” as Ado Annie, the flirtatious local who splits her affections between a resident [...]

  • Hadestown Broadway

    'Hadestown': Inside the Musical's 12-Year Odyssey to Broadway

    “Hadestown’s” 12-year journey to Broadway was an odyssey in its own right.  Singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell’s buzzy musical, a folk-operatic retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus, a musician who ventures to the underworld to rescue his fiancée, Eurydice, was in development for more than a decade before arriving on the New York stage. The show [...]

  • Elaine May in The Waverly Gallery

    Playwright Kenneth Lonergan on the Genius of His 'Waverly Gallery' Star Elaine May

    When Elaine May agreed to be in my play, “The Waverly Gallery,” naturally I was ecstatic. I had admired her as a director, writer, actor and sketch comedian since high school, when my friend Patsy Broderick made me listen to the album “Nichols and May Examine Doctors.” I didn’t know then that I had already seen Elaine’s [...]

  • Lisbeth R Barron Investment Banker

    Investment Banker Lisbeth R. Barron on How She Became a Broadway Deal Specialist

    If you want to get a deal done on Broadway, call Lisbeth R. Barron. Barron is a veteran investment banker who launched her own shingle, Barron Intl. Group, in 2015. She has brokered a slew of deals throughout her career — which has included stops at S.G. Warburg and Bear Stearns — involving companies and [...]

  • The Lion King Frozen Disney on

    Disney Theatrical Celebrates 25 Years on Broadway

    The Disney brand is known worldwide for its family-friendly entertainment with a flair for magic, music and spectacle, but when its adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast” hit Broadway in 1994, success wasn’t guaranteed. Variety’s positive review by Jeremy Gerard noted, “It will almost certainly be met with varying levels of derision by Broadway traditionalists.” [...]

  • The Prom Broadway

    'The Prom': How the Little Show That Could Found Its Way to the Tonys Dance

    Does a Broadway musical still count as an underdog if it’s got über-producer Ryan Murphy in its corner? It does if it’s “The Prom,” the labor of love from a team of Broadway veterans that’s carving out a place for itself as an original story on a street full of familiar titles and well-known brands. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content