The King and I at The New Victoria Theatre, Woking Review

by Jan

Last night we were invited* to the New Victoria Theatre in Woking for a performance of The King and I.  This award-winning Rodgers and Hammerstein musical has come to Woking from the London Palladium, as part of its UK tour.

No doubt, you’ve heard of The King and I, as it’s been around for years.  Rodgers and Hammerstein originally wrote it for Broadway in 1951, when it won 4 Tony Awards.  At the time the stars of the show were Gertrude Lawrence and Yul Brynner.

Shortly after, Yul Brynner went on to appear in a film version with Deborah Kerr.  It’s since had 946 performances in London.

*We were invited to the press night, but all opinions are our own.

The King and I at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Annalene Beechey (Anna Leonowens)

In the current performance, the stars are West End’s Annalene Beechy and Broadway’s Brian Rivera.  They are joined by a cast of over 50 performers and a full-size orchestra.  The director is Bartlett Sher.

The show is running at Woking from Tuesday 26th September to Saturday 30th September 2023.  It will then move to Oxford and Milton Keynes.  It starts at 7.30pm and the running time is 2h 55 with an interval.

The story of The King and I

Yuki Ozeki ( Little Eva) in The King and I, New Victoria Theatre Woking

The King and I recounts the story of British schoolteacher Anna, who is hired by the King of Siam who wants to modernise his country (now known as Thailand).

King Mongkut hopes that Anna can help change his image, so that he can gain respect from his Western counterparts.  He wants her to teach him everything about English customs and etiquette, so he can welcome a group of English diplomats.  He wants to prove that the Thai people are not barbarians.

Furthermore, she is governess to the enormous brood of royal children!  (The king has a large collection of wives!)

Both have extremely strong characters and clash as they struggle with their cultural differences.  However, there is a great deal of mutual respect and they develop a strong affection towards each other.

Our review

2 people looking at each in The King and I

The show is an all-singing, all dancing spectacular.  You’ll be surprised how many catchy songs you recognise, including my favourite “Shall we dance?”

The cast and musicians are amazing and earned a well-deserved standing ovation at the end.  You’ll see some great dancing, including a show within a show as the king’s Burmese wife performs her play for the English ambassador.  There’s also a host of cute children who entertain the audience throughout.

I loved the costumes and set, especially as we’ve just spent four weeks in Thailand.  It brought back fond memories of a summer well spent!

We’re lucky to live so close to the New Victoria Theatre, as it gets all the top shows coming out of London, without the journey!  We can get there in under half an hour and park within a few minutes’ walk of the theatre.  This all adds to a fantastic evening.

Click here to find out more about The King and I and book tickets on the New Victoria Theatre Website.

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