Critically Acclaimed Production Played 538 Performances
This past week, the recent revival of The King and I concluded its Broadway run. It began previews on March 12, 2015, ahead of an opening night on April 16, 2016. At the time of its closing, the show played 499 regular performances on top of 39 previews. The King and I is a classic of modern American musical theatre, having premiered on Broadway in 1951. In the intervening time, the show has enjoyed a number of lauded revivals, including those in 1977, 1985, 1996, and now 2015. For such a celebrated show, in fact, it has experienced relatively few major revivals over the years. One reason is the sheer scale of the show. This revival had a cast of over 50 people, in addition to a full orchestra of 29 pieces. This makes running costs very high, which makes it difficult to mount a production with a chance of being financially viable. This revival was blessed with the resources of its producer, Lincoln Center Theater, playing in the institution’s largest venue on their home campus, the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. The show was also directed by Bartlett Sher, who has great experience crafting large-scale musicals such as South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza, and the currently running production of Fiddler on the Roof.
Though The King and I was still running during this past month’s 70th Annual Tony Awards, it was not eligible for any awards, as it had been running since the previous year’s ceremony. For the 69th Annual Tony Awards, which took place in June 2015, The King and I was nominated for nine awards, and won four. The awards that it won were those for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for Kelli O’Hara, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for Ruthie Ann Miles, and Best Costume Design of a Musical for Catherine Zuber. In addition, it received nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Ken Watanabe, Best Direction of a Musical for Bartlett Sher, Best Scenic Design of a Musical for Michael Yeargan, Best Lighting Design of a Musical for Donald Holder, and Best Choreography for Christopher Gattelli. This was the first time that Kelli O’Hara won a Tony Award, although she has been nominated several times in the past. The original leading stars, Ken Watanabe and Kelli O’Hara, played the roles for over a year, until May 3, 2016, when they were replaced by Daniel Dae Kim and Marin Mazzie, who also were wonderful in the parts.
A London Production and National Tour
While The King and I is a production that has already been seen around the country and the world, this production was so successful that it has scheduled several future runs. In the 2016 to 2017 season, it will arrive in London’s West End. Although casting for that London production is yet to be announced, it is expected that at least Kelli O’Hara will travel with the show to reprise her role as Anna Leonowens. Furthermore, this upcoming November 2016, a national tour will commence across the United States, beginning with a stint in Providence, Rhode Island. It will play engagements of a variety of lengths across multiple cities nationwide. It has still not been announced whether the tour will be of a comparable scale to the Broadway production, although it will inevitably need to be reduced to some extent to accommodate the touring production.
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