Review: The King and I (Manchester Opera House)

The King and I movie is one I’ve seen many times as a child and still remains a firm favourite of mine. I loved the music and of course the children!

This week, The King and I opened in Manchester before touring the rest of the UK. I was lucky enough to be invited to the press night showing at the Opera House.

Right from the start, The King and I was everything I could have wanted and more. Directed by Bartlett Sher, this stage production followed the movie story pretty closely.

The King and I is set in 1863 and starts with Anna (Annalene Beechey), a widow and English school teacher arriving in Siam with her young son.

She comes to Siam to work for the King of Siam (Jose Llana) as a teacher to his wives and children and to help modernise the country.  From the opening scene, I am blown away with the set. The set design was spectacular, from the gold leaf curtains to the palace pillars that appear out of the air. Anna’s ship arriving in Siam in the opening scene was pretty amazing to watch, as the giant ship moved across the entire stage.

As Anna gets to know the King and his children she falls in love, just as the audience does. The children are fantastic to watch and their performances are one of wonder! They definitely bring the heartwarming factor to the show.

The King is extremely stubborn but Anna soon realises what a kind-hearted man he is too. Jose Llana’s portrayal as the King was outstanding and one of my favourite performances of the show. His voice was fantastic but he had some great scenes and brought many aspects of comedy to the musical.

The King and I is full of classic songs that took me back to the movie I watched so many times as a child. I particularly loved the scene ‘Shall We Dance’ as Anna and the King floated around the stage dodging the moving pillars. Another remarkable and heart-warming scene was when Anna and the children sing ‘Getting To Know You’.

Each scene is full of beautiful costumes and scenery that will make you gasp! The scenes out in the garden with Tuptim (Kamm Kunaree) and Lun Tha (Kavin Panmeechao) were breathtaking. The lovers secretly met amongst the rows and rows of hanging flowers that was just beautiful to see.

Anna’s dresses were also something of a spectacle! Just like in the film, they were huge and very beautiful!

I loved every minute of The King and I, it was everything I could have ever wanted in a musical. It’s beautiful, it’s romantic, it’s spectacular, it’s 5 stars from me.

This King and I is showing now at the Opera House Manchester until Saturday 11th May. For more information on the show and for tickets see here.