THE King and I remains one of the finest musicals Rodgers and Hammerstein ever wrote with music and songs that still hold up by today’s demanding standards.

Much respect has to be given to the makers of the show who have made all the right decisions in having all Asian characters performed by people of Asian descent.


The show might still be considered “problematic”, though the lead character of Anna still holds up as a confident woman in a time of rampant sexism in every country she ventures to.

Power is one of the predominant themes of the show, as is defiance and love.

It is the dazzling costumes which are a real marker for the show. Catherine Zuber’s creations are stunning in both cultures of English society and the palace of Siam.

The sets by Michael Yeargan are also admirable in vision, the ship at the opening is one example.

The dancers also stand out, never waning in each and every number.

A highlight of the entire show is the remarkable performance put on for the King, an eye-popping reimagining of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, brought to life through the medium of traditional Thai theatre.

Maria Coyne as Anna made the role all her own, though perhaps some of the high notes did not quite reach full potential.

Coyne had a great theatrical presence, her song ‘Shall I tell you what I think of you?’, was crammed with cutting jabs towards the King. Jose Llana is the perfect King, more subtle at times then you would expect.

Lady Thiang (one of the King’s many wives) is Cezarah Bonner, a stunning role to take on.

Some fleeting songs and grace hold up the supporting role filled with passion by Bonner. Kok-Hwa Lie is Kralahome, the imposing minister to the King, getting chances to show off his time in gym.

Whilst the lovers Lan The and Tuptim aren't the most fleshed out of characters, both are tackled by Ethan Le Phong and Jessica Gomes-Ng with stirring songs.

The King and I is at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff until January 18.

James Ellis