THE King of Siam will be holding court at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle early next year in a joint effort to show off to new audiences.
The royal date in the calendar comes courtesy of a new independent theatre consortium called Music and Lyrics, set up to tour work to a wider mix of people.
Music and Lyrics, made up of touring theatres across the UK, has support from Arts Council England to promote their musicals further afield and the King and I is heading north from Curve Theatre Leicester.
The lavish new production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s hit - which tells of the growing love between the King of Siam and an English governess – will run at the Theatre Royal from January 24-28.
The award-winning musical first made its debut in 1951 and went on to inspire two Hollywood films, the most famous starring Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr.
This new version will star Ramon Tikaram – who played Ferdy in BBC’s This Life and Qadim in EastEnders – and double Olivier Award-nominated Josefina Gabrielle, who’s had a number of West End and Broadway stage roles, including starring with Hugh Jackman in Trevor Nunn’s National Theatre production of Oklahoma!
It promises a grand-scale affair with highlights including shadow puppets, acrobatic dancers, ballet sequences and live music plus a chorus of local children, while the score – which features such favourites as Shall We Dance, Hello Young Lovers, and Getting To Know You – will have a starring role of its own.
The aim of the Music and Lyrics consortium is to develop audiences of young people and non-traditional theatre-goers and this musical is likely to hit the spot.
Based on Margaret Landon’s 1944 novel Anna and the King Of Siam, which tells of real-life 19th Century governess Anna Leonowens – a widow who cared for all 67 children of the King of Siam, the musical is an enduring classic which lends itself to big, bold productions.
A 2002 version which toured to Sunderland Empire boasted 14 30ft-high model elephants adorned with 12,000 jewels.
This time, Eastern charm will be created with the help of giant gold Buddhas, spectacular costumes and sliding screens.
Tickets for The King and I are available now. Visit www.theatreroyal.co.uk or call 08448 112-121.