Kelli O'Hara and Ken Watanabe to Lead The King and I Broadway Revival

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30 Jun 2014

Kelli O'Hara
Kelli O'Hara
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Lincoln Center Theater has announced that five-time Tony Award nominee Kelli O'Hara will star as Anna Leonowens opposite Ken Watanabe in his Broadway debut as the King of Siam in a 2015 Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I.

As previously reported, director Bartlett Sher, who earned a Tony Award for the 2008 Lincoln Center Theater Broadway revival of South Pacific, will helm The King and I, which will begin previews March 12, 2015, at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. The production will officially open April 16.

The revival will include the original Jerome Robbins choreography, with musical staging by Christopher Gattelli (South Pacific, Newsies). The original Robert Russell Bennett orchestrations will also be used.

The King and I will reunite Sher with his Tony-winning South Pacific creative team, including scenic designer Michael Yeargan, costume designer Catherine Zuber, lighting designer Donald Holder, sound designer Scott Lehrer and musical director Ted Sperling.

In Playbill.com's April 4 Diva Talk column, five-time Tony Award nominee O'Hara, who starred in The Bridges of Madison County, first revealed that she was in talks to star in the revival. Her history with Lincoln Center Theater includes the Sher-directed productions of The Light in the Piazza and South Pacific.



The King and I will mark Watanabe's American stage debut. His film work includes "The Last Samurai," "Inception," "Letters from Iwo Jima," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "Batman Begins" and "Godzilla." His Japanese theatre credits include Dialogue with Horowitz, Hamlet, Shitayamannen-cho monogatari, The Lion in Winter and The Royal Hunt of the Sun.

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."

The original production opened March 29, 1951, at the St. James Theatre. It starred Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence and ran for 1,246 performances. The King and I has been revived on Broadway three times; the most recent production starred Donna Murphy and Lou Diamond Phillips.

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."