Follow Us on Twitter

The King and I transfers from Broadway to the West End

Ken Watanabe and Kelli O'Hara in the Broadway production of The King and I. Photo credit: Paul Kolnik 2015.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE multi Tony Award-winning production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I will transfer from Broadway to London next summer following a critically acclaimed 16 month run at New York’s Lincoln Center Theater and an unprecedented continuing record-breaking sold out USA tour.

With music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, The King and I – which won four Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical – will receive its European Premiere at the London Palladium, where it will open for a limited engagement on July 3 (previews from June 21) and run until August 4, 2018.

The show will star the two original Lincoln Center Theater lead actors: Broadway musical theatre star Kelli O’Hara, who will reprise her Tony Award-winning role of Anna Leonowens, and film star, Oscar and Tony nominee (for his role on The King and I) Ken Watanabe, who will star in the title role of The King of Siam.

Both will be making their West End debuts, following their acclaimed performances on Broadway.

Acclaimed Tony Award-winning Bartlett Sher will once again direct the production. It follows his work on The Lincoln Center Theater’s World Premiere of J.T. Rogers’ hit play Oslo, which opened on Broadway before transferring via the National Theatre to London’s Harold Pinter Theatre. He, along with the celebrated creative team behind the award winning production of South Pacific, will reunite to bring this majestic production to life at the Palladium.

Based Upon the novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, The King and I is set in 1860s Bangkok and 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.

One of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works, this masterpiece boasts a score featuring classic numbers such as Getting To Know You, Hello Young Lovers, Shall We Dance, I Have Dreamed, and Something Wonderful.

Kelli O’Hara, who won the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her performance in the Lincoln Center Theatre’s production of The King and I, has also been nominated for Tony Awards for previous Broadway performances in The Light in the Piazza, South Pacific, The Bridges of Madison County, Nice Work if You Can Get It and The Pajama Game.

She has also appeared on Broadway in The Sweet Smell of Success, Follies, Dracula, and Jekyll & Hyde and Off-Broadway in Far From Heaven, King Lear, Bells Are Ringing, My Life With Albertin, Beauty and The Light in the Piazza. She is currently starring in New York City Center’s concert presentation of Brigadoon and is set to star in Roundabout Theatre Company’s Broadway revival of Kiss Me, Kate in 2019.

Ken Watanabe’s Japanese theatre credits include Dialogue with Horowitz, Hamlet, Shitayamannen-cho monogatari, The Lion in Winter and The Royal Hunt of the Sun. For his work in film, Watanabe received Oscar, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award nominations for The Last Samurai. His film credits also include Inception, Letters from Iwo Jima, Memoirs of a Geisha, Batman Begins, Godzilla, The Sea of Trees and Transformers. He has just completed work on the upcoming films Isle of Dogs, Bel Canto and Godzilla: King of Monsters.

The King and I has set design by Michael Yeargan, costume design by Catherine Zuber, lighting by Donald Holder, sound by Scott Lehrer, choreography by Christopher Gattelli, musical supervision by Ted Sperling and musical direction by Stephen Ridley.

Image: Ken Watanabe and Kelli O’Hara in the Broadway production of The King and I. Photo credit: Paul Kolnik 2015.

Tickets: £15 – £75. Premium Seating available. To book, call the box office on 020 7087 7755 or visit

Times: Monday to Saturday at 7pm, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2pm and 7pm.