Tony nominee Ken Watanabe, who postponed his return to the role of the King of Siam in Lincoln Center Theater's Tony-winning Broadway revival of The King and I after undergoing laparoscopic surgery for stomach cancer, officially returns to the role March 17.
Watanabe's cancer was caught at an early stage. He had been scheduled to recreate his Tony-nominated performance as King for seven weeks, March 1-April 17. He recovered sufficiently to step into the role for several performances last week while his replacement, Hoon Lee, was out.
Lee, who was lauded for his performance (including a rave return review from The New York Times), gave his final official performance at the March 16 evening show.
Watanabe is reunited with his Tony-winning co-star Kelli O'Hara, as Anna Leonowens, though she is scheduled to depart the production April 17. O'Hara will be succeeded by three-time Tony nominee Marin Mazzie, who joins the company May 3.
Analisa Leaming will play the role of Mrs. Anna in the interim. Jose Llana, who succeeded Watanabe in the role last fall, is scheduled to perform as the King of Siam April 19-May 1.
In addition, Daniel Dae Kim (TV's Lost and Hawaii Five-0) will make his Broadway debut in the throne of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic for a further eight weeks, May 3-June 26. Kim starred as the King opposite Maria Friedman’s Anna Leonowens in The King and I at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Bartlett Sher, who earned a Tony Award for the 2008 Lincoln Center Theater Broadway revival of South Pacific, directed The King and I, which opened April 16, 2015, at the Vivian Beaumont Theater and won the 2015 Tony Award as Best Revival of a Musical.
The Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical, based on the life of Anna Leonowens as well as Margaret Landon's 1944 novel "Anna and the King of Siam," includes classics such as "Hello Young Lovers," "I Whistle A Happy Tune," "Shall We Dance?" and "Getting To Know You."
According to LCT, "Set in 1860's Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher, whom the imperious King brings to Siam to tutor his many wives and children."