LIFESTYLE | THEATRE

Review: Seven Reasons To Watch The King and I (Especially If You're Filipino)

From the lavish costumes to the high-energy performances and just the right mix of drama and comedy, the King and I has all the ingredients for a fun night out.

The musical The King and I is the one to beat at the prestigious Helpmann Awards on 18 August, a celebration of Australia’s artistic achievements and excellence in live performance, such as in musical theatre, opera and contemporary music.

The theatrical production was nominated in 10 categories, including Best Female Actor in a Musical for Lisa McCune, Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role for Shu-Cheen Yu, Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Marty Rhone and Best Musical.

In short, there are a hundred reasons why you should watch it when it comes to Sydney in September - staged at the Sydney Opera House no less.

But after watching the show this week in Melbourne, I also want to add in seven reasons why it is a must-see if you are Filipino.

Reason #1 A sea of gold
Talk about the valley of Swarovski. From the stage to the costumes and headdresses, you will be transported to, quite literally, the golden days of Siam (now Thailand) with the set - and cast - decked out in Swarovski crystals. The effort (and expense) that went into the fabulous gold-and-yellow costumes will make your favourite auntie (the one with about five golden chains around her neck) weep with envy.

Reason #2 There’s a chance your cousin or family friend is on stage
Slight exaggeration but the cast boasts many Filipino-Australians. If you want to see the community’s best-of-the-best in Australian theatre, they are currently touring with The King and I.

Reason #3 Comedy at its best
There are a lot of comic moments in the show, largely centred on the antics of the King himself. I was so fortunate to see Lou Diamond Phillips perform as the King. When I saw him exit the theatre, I almost wanted to chase him and belt out a verse from ‘La Bamba’ in the hope that he’ll join in! And yes, he is part-Filipino, too.

Reason #4 Cuteness factor at the top of the scale
This musical is unusual in that it features a lot of children (the King of Siam, after all, had more than 80 kids!). But watching one child on stage is already endearing, let alone 20. Be prepared to hear a collective “Awwwww” in the scenes between the children and Anna (played by Lisa McCune).

Reason #5 The Dance Choreography
The second part of the musical will showcase a stunningly choreographed dance segment, which demands an energy level impossible to sustain, unless you’re Superman or a King and I dancer. Pair that with great costumes and music, and you know you’re in for a treat.

Reason #6 Getting to Know You
I must confess when someone mentions Lisa McCune, I immediately think of her Blue Heeler days. However, after seeing her powerful performance and rendition of ‘Getting to Know You’, she is firmly a musical actress to my mind. Can’t wait to see her perform again in Sydney.

Reason #7 One of The Community’s Favourite Sons
The King and I cast member Marcus Rivera has endeared himself to the tight-knit Filipino community in Sydney for his civic work, having lent his support to various fundraising projects for the Philippines. With performances in Miss Saigon, Anything Goes and Sweeney Todd under his belt, the Filipino community doesn’t need a lot of coaxing to see him onstage.

Now in Melbourne, Princess Theatre
For more information: http://thekingandimusical.com.au/

The King and I
Joan Sutherland Theatre,
Sydney Opera House
From 7 September 2014
Book Tickets

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