I never saw this show on stage with Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence (wsj.com) but was, of course, familiar with the gorgeous 1956 film starring Yul Brynner and the non-singing Deborah Kerr dubbed by opera’s Marni Nixon.(bam.org) Here the leads are played by Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe but the real stars of this show are Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, creators of the beautiful score, Jerome Robbins, choreographer of the “Small House of Uncle Thomas” ballet and the entrance of the children, and Robert Russell Bennett, the original orchestrator; this LCT production kept all of these elements in place. So we had a chance to see and hear roughly what the audiences of 1951 heard and it was pretty nice.
The stagecraft was spectacular, especially in the use of the thrust stage which brought a life-size boat forward as it covered the orchestra pit and later created many scenes with few props and scenery,(lct.org) always my favorite thing, leaving plenty of room for Anna and the King to cover the stage in their dance.
(nypost.com) If I wanted to cavil, I might say that the singers did not completely rise to the score’s level and that the otherwise fine acting of Ken Watanabe could not compensate for the lack of clarity in the lyrics, which, especially in his solos, are really important.But this is a fine production of a lovely show; don’t miss it.