Okay I have my review for the King and I, which has now become one of my favorite musicals:
5:00, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, 12/29/11
I have just gotten back from seeing “The King and I” at the Walnut Street Theatre. The play was one of the best I have seen at the Walnut, along with Miss Saigon, which I will talk about later in a different respect. But, lets start with the play itself.
The story was probably the best of any Rogers and Hammerstein I have seen (I’ve seen both South Pacific and Oklahoma). I particularly liked the way they were able to really use the child actors without making their roles too difficult for their age. The play was lighthearted, but also deeply emotional (though not quite so much as some of the other stuff WST has done, like Les Mis or Miss Saigon). It displayed good ethics toward people and women, and was a very deep play in general.
Now, on to the actors. This was the best part of the play: the actors were so phenomenal. Rachael York (a former Fantine in Les Mis) was a brilliant Mrs. Anna and she brought both great singing and acting to the part. Jeffery Coon (a former Enjolras in Les Mis) was also a great Sir Edward Ramsey, and his line about “the best welcome he ever got” was hilarious (and also very un-Enjolraic). I would love to talk about everyone, and I sort of will later, but I need to discuss one particular actor: Mel Sagrado Maghuyop, AKA, the King. I had already seen Mel as the Engineer in Miss Saigon, and he was awesome, on the ride home from Saigon; my mom could not stop talking about how amazing he was. Well, he did not disappoint as the King, being both very true to the part and also adding some perfectly placed and executed humor in the story, especially on his deathbed. After the show, I went down to the stage door, and a very nice lady who happened to know him brought him out to sign my playbill and talk for a bit. He could not have been nice (or funnier for that matter) and was very complemented by our raving reviews of both Miss Saigon and this. When I told him about how MmeBahorel (yes you!) raved about him online, he gave me a big smile and a big thank you.
Keeping on the stage door topic, Rachael York, Noah Breymeier (Prince Chulalongkorn), Conrad Sager (Luis), Manna Nichols (Tuptim), and many others were so nice and signed my playbill. I was able to talk with Manna, Nina Crupiti, and LaMae for a bit and I happened to mention that it was my birthday. They actually started singing to me and mentioned that one of the King’s children was celebrating their birthday right then back stage. Happy birthday to you (I believe it was Samantha Sam, but I unfortunately can’t remember.)! I did not get to meet Jeffery Coon unfortunately (who is in his last season at the Walnut: *crying*!), but the birthday performance was amazing.
Now for the final judgment. Out of 10, I would give it… a sold 7. The cast was amazing and really made a good-but-not-great story very enjoyable. The fact that they were so welcoming at the stage door was really great too!
Has anyone else seen it? If so, what did you think?