PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 28-July 4: Kelli O'Hara Will "Whistle A Happy Tune" in The King and I

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04 Jul 2014

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

Kelli O'Hara is the Rodgers and Hammerstein heroine of the 21st century.

The musical theatre leading lady, who did so well as Nellie Forbush in the Lincoln Center Theater revival of South Pacific will be back at the Beaumont in 2015 to play Anna Leonowens in a new production of The King and I. Bartlett Sher will direct, as he did for Pacific.

Playing opposite O'Hara in what will forever be thought of as the Yul Brynner role will be Ken Watanabe, making his Broadway debut as the King of Siam. The King and I will begin previews March 12, 2015. The revival will include the original Jerome Robbins choreography, with musical staging by Christopher Gattelli. The original Robert Russell Bennett orchestrations will also be used.

Unlike South Pacific, which hadn't been seen on Broadway since its original staging until LCT brought it back in 2008, The King and I has been a frequent visitor — mainly because Brynner, who knew a meal ticket when he saw it, kept bringing it back. The most recent Broadway production, however, in 1996, starred Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy won her second Tony for the performance.

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An alternate title for The King and I might have been The Many Wives Club. For now, we'll have to make do with The First Wives Club, a new musical adaptation of the 1996 comedy.

The show will premiere in Chicago next spring, prior to an anticipated Broadway arrival during the 2015-16 season, producers announced June 30. The musical will have a new book by Emmy nominee Linda Bloodworth Thomason, the writer best known for the sitcom "Designing Women" and for being an FOB (Friend of Bill Clinton).

Continued...

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