Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The King & I” is a magical trip to 1860’s Bangkok, where an unconventional and tempestuous relationship develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher. Winner of the 2015 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, “The King and I” is playing at the Buell Theater until January 14th. For tickets & information go to “The King & I” page at denvercenter.org.

DENVER (CBS4) –¬†For 66 years, “The King & I” has been a Broadway war horse. It’s a show to see and see again, never seeming to lose it’s dramatic punch. Part of that is in the soaring music by Rodgers & Hammerstein, the lush costumes, and the exotic staging. All of that comes wrapped in a story that reflects us, even 60 years later.

king and i 1 The King & I Delights Denver Audiences “The King & I” (credit DCPA)

“Even though the story was written in 1951, the issues that the story talks about, about extending the hand of friendship to someone who you maybe fear at first, but find out that you can actually find common ground with, is something that world leaders today and even normal people try everyday,” said Jose Llana, who plays “King of Siam.”

The story of Anna and the King is cloaked in classical music, expansive costuming, and compelling characters, which draws the audience in and hold them in their seats.

king and i 2 The King & I Delights Denver Audiences “The King & I” (credit DCPA)

“I think that’s the genius of Rodgers and Hammerstein and why they are the foundation of American Musical Theater, they’re able to tell really compelling stories matched with really catchy tunes,” Llana told CBS4.

In the midst of Anna and the King’s budding relationship, there is the story of star-crossed lovers “Tuptim” and “Lun Tha.” The audience sympathizes with them, roots for them, and wants them to be together. But even the actors playing this star-crossed couple question their fate.

king and i lovers 1 The King & I Delights Denver Audiences “The King & I” (credit DCPA)

“I think everyone wants them to get away,” said Kavin Panmeechoa, who plays “Lun Tha”

“Well, they kind of do, in a way,” said Q Lim, who plays “Tuptim.”

“They do, yeah,” Panmeechoa agreed.

“It’s tragic, I mean it’s tragic, but I think we do do that,” Lim added.

“Yeah, but then, well then we get caught,” Panmeechoa said.

“Right, but we’re kind of free…” Lim said.

“We do, we have our moment of freedom,” Panmeechoa agreed.

“Because we’re dead,” Lim explained.

“Oh, in that regard, yes, then we are free,” Panmeechoa said.

One of the most elaborate aspects of the Lincoln Center Theater production of “The King & I” is the costumes.

“Hundreds and hundreds of pieces,” said Madeline Trumble, who plays “Anna.”

“They’re a bunch of pieces. They’re made out of a bunch of pieces. So one costume piece, like the colorful wives, they have four different pieces that go with one costume look, so there’s a lot of pieces in the show,” said Lyndsi Sage, wardrobe assistant.

king and i costumes 1 The King & I Delights Denver Audiences (credit CBS)

“Miss Anna” alone has six dresses, made up of several layers of heavy fabrics, making a quick change a huge challenge.

“I’ve got a couple of people that kind of follow me around and make sure I have everything I need. It takes like two or three people to get me into one of these dresses. You know, for balance, I’ve got to step into it, and then someone does up the back, and someone does up the front. It’s really a whole production. No one sees what happens behind the scenes, but that’s a whole other show,” Trumble explained.

king and i costumes 2 The King & I Delights Denver Audiences “The King & I” (credit DCPA)

The huge, flowing dress for the big dance number actually has a handle built into it, so Trumble can grab it in a fluid motion and heft the weight of it gracefully. There are dog masks, children’s outfits, and clothing fit for a king, making “The King & I” a rich visual experience.

 

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