Theatre review: The King and I at Norwich Theatre Royal

Theatre review: The King and I at Norwich Theatre Royal

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One of the most well-known musicals has come to Norwich Theatre Royal! I got to see The King and I on opening night; read on to see what I thought!

THE KING AND I by Rodgers and Hammerstein’s,           , UK ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR -DAVID SIEBERT, SETS -MICHAEL YEARGAN, COSTUMES -CATHERINE ZUBER,  LIGHTING - DONALD HOLDER, Manchester Opera House, 2019, Credit: Johan Persson

The multi award-winning Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I returns to the UK, following its critically-acclaimed sold out season at The London Palladium.

The King and I is the greatest musical from the golden age of musicals – with one of the finest scores ever written including Whistle a Happy Tune and Shall We Dance.

This gloriously lavish production is brought to the stage by an internationally renowned creative team under Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher (South Pacific / My Fair Lady / To Kill a Mockingbird) and will feature a world-class company of over 50 West End and Broadway performers and a full-scale orchestra.

Did we enjoy the show?

I’m not sure how but somehow I had managed to go this long without seeing The King and I, or really knowing anything about it. I got to go to the theatre on opening night, not knowing what to expect, watching with completely fresh eyes.

What’s the show about?

Along with her young son, widow Anna Leonowens has just taken a teaching position with the King of Siam. The King, who wants Siam to have more of a Western influence, instructs Anna to educate his many children and wives.

Anna is straight-talking and doesn’t put up with nonsense, which the King isn’t used to. With outdated ideas about women, politics and slavery, the King and Anna are quite different but must find a way to co-exist.

011_The King and I__Pamela Raith Photography


Our Anna was played by Maria Coyne, the alternate however, you would never know this unless told. Coyne was absolutely magnificent in the role of Anna. Her accent and mannerisms as a well-brought-up English woman were spot on and the contrast between her and the King was fun to see.

Darren Lee plays the role of the King of Siam. His character and Lee’s portrayal of the King were so enjoyable. The King gets some fantastic lines and Lee’s comedic timing was spot on… etcetera, etcetera! I found myself laughing throughout, much more than I thought I would.

The King and I has quite a large cast, thanks to the King’s wives and multiple children, as well as other characters. Honestly, everyone was fabulous however, I have to give special mention to the children as well as Cezarah Bonner who plays Lady Thing.

THE KING AND I by Rogers and Hammerstein,         , MUSIC - RICHARD RODGERS,  BOOK AND LYRICS - OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II,  DIRECTED - BARTLETT SHER,  Choreography - CHRISTOPHER GATTELLI based on Jerome Robins, Sets - MICHAEL YEARGAN,  Costumes - CATHERINE ZUBER, Lighting - DONALD HOLDER, MARLOWE THEATRE Canterbury, 2023, Credit: Johan Persson/

Costumes and set design

The King and I is such a stunning production in so many ways. Set mostly in the palace, there aren’t too many set changes. When the sets do change you are given beautiful gardens and fun classrooms. The small sets seem intimate in a way that shows how the King and anyone else live in the Palace.

For me, the costumes helped to steal the show. There’s such a contrast between Anna’s HUGE dresses and the women’s and children’s traditional costumes. There’s one scene that’s a play and it was just breathtaking. I really loved seeing a very different kind of dancing and entertainment compared to what I usually see.

Overall thoughts

I don’t really know what I was expecting from The King and I but I got so much more than I could have asked for. I laughed and I cried and I had the best time. There’s a reason why the King and I is so popular and I’m so glad I’ve finally seen it.

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