The King And I: a step back to the golden age of musicals that is still a treat

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Almost 70 years from its cinematic launch, The King And I still holds its appeal on the stage.

The latest touring production, currently at the Edinburgh Playhouse, transports you back to the golden age of musicals with style and grace.

They don’t make musicals like this anymore, but there’s really no need when the original is still pulling in huge audiences and providing such rich entertainment. Attitudes may have changed - and you could detect the odd gasp here and there at the outdated views - but the sheer quality of the show remains resolute.

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The story is one of a clash of cultures as a British teacher, Anna Leonowens, superbly played by Annalene Beechey, is hired by the King of Siam (Brian Rivera) to teach his many off-spring as he frets over accusations he is a barbarian. He probably is, but she finds his soft underbelly.

The King And I - playing at the Playhouse Theatre in EdinburghThe King And I - playing at the Playhouse Theatre in Edinburgh
The King And I - playing at the Playhouse Theatre in Edinburgh

The warmth between the two leads was evident as they sparred verbally, Beechey taking no nonsense from, and standing up to a monarch unused to such behaviours. Rivera’s running “etcetera, etcetera, etcetera “ gag was a joy throughout the show - it even spilled over to the staff at the door bidding folk goodnight as they headed into the night!

The songs are exquisite - Whistle A Happy Tune, Shall We Dance and a beautiful rendition of Something Wonderful by the excellent Cezerah Bonner as Lady Thiang - the kids are delightful; and funny, and the production a joy to watch.

A treat from the Rogers and Hammerstein playbook - one that really transport you to a different time.

The King & I is at the Playhouse Theatre until Saturday.