Review: Captivating and stunning, the King and I at Oxford New Theatre

The King and I was a captivating show –  a tale of friendship and trust, as well as a clash of cultures in a time so long ago.

This Rodgers and Hammerstein show had lavish written all over – from sumptuous curtains, stunning costumes, this wonderful story was matched by a fabulous score.

The King And I is the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist King brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children.

The King and I

After many disagreements, Anna (played by Maria Coyne) becomes a confidant to the King, but also a friend and role model to his family, including Lady Thiang (played by Cezarah Bonner) and Princess Tuptim (Marienella Phillips) who was a gift from the King of Burma. Anna’s teachings also had a lasting influence on Prince Chulalongkorn (Caleb Lagayan), who continues to build on his father’s vision of a modern Siam, which later became Thailand.

Although the King and I may be a little imperialistic, with a smidgen of patriarchy, you must remember this was set in 1860s Bangkok, a very different time. For us it was a timeless tale from the golden age off musicals, which transported us to a different era. It had the right amount of drama, touching scenes and comedy moments; and we loved it.

Usually in a production like this one member of the cast stands out – but we were really hard pressed to choose a favourite. We loved them all – Tuptim had the most mesmerising voice, while the King (Brian Rivera) was enchanting and praise must go to Anna for dealing with her very big skirts for the entire show.

9. Cezarah Bonner Lady Th. and Female ensemble

Watch out for the play within a play – it was stunning, definitely a highlight; and we really enjoyed meeting the King’s children – there are lots of children in this production and they were just as professional as the adults they were working with.

If you do one thing this week, go and see the King and I, we promise you will leave the theatre with a big smile on your face. The show runs until Saturday, October 7, for tickets view