Shall we dance? Broadway’s Kelli Ohara & Ken Watanabe lead The King & I into West End

17 Nov
Posted in: Theatre News
Author: Press Releases
Kelli O'Hara & Ken Watanabe in The King & I

It's had a record-breaking run in the US and now, as tipped, Bartlett Sher's acclaimed revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein classic THE KING & I is coming to the West End's London Palladium, complete with original stars Kelli O'Hara as Anna Leonowens and Ken Watanabe as the King of Siam...

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.

The production will start performances on 21 June 2018 – with a press night on 3 July 2018, booking until 4 August 2018 – at the West End’s London Palladium, where the last West End production of the Broadway classic was staged in 2006.

THE KING AND I will star the two original Lincoln Center Theater lead actors: Broadway musical royalty Kelli O’Hara, who will reprise her Tony Award-winning role of Anna Leonowens, together with 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, hot on the heels of his work on The Lincoln Center Theater’s world Premiere of JT Rogers’ smash hit play Oslo, which opened on Broadway and then transferred via the National Theatre to the West End’s Harold Pinter Theatre in October this year to rave reviews. He, along with the creative team behind the award-winning production of South Pacific, will reunite to bring this production to life at the Palladium.

With music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, this production of THE KING AND I – which won four Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical – will have its European premiere at the London Palladium.

One of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works, this masterpiece boasts a score featuring such beloved classics as Getting To Know You, Hello Young Lovers, Shall We Dance, I Have Dreamed, and Something Wonderful.  Set in 1860s 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.


Kelli O’Hara won the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her performance in the Lincoln Center Theatre’s production of The King & I. Kelli 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. Additional Broadway credits include The Sweet Smell of Success, Follies, Dracula, and Jekyll & Hyde. Off-Broadway: Far From Heaven, King Lear, Bells Are Ringing, My Life With Albertin, Beauty and The Light in the Piazza Film/TV: Sex and the City 2, Scorsese’s The Key to Reserva, Blood Brothers, Alexander Hamilton, Numb3rs and Masters of Sex. Recordings: Her recordings include Always and Wonders of the World on Ghostlight Records. Kelli has most recently completed filming the upcoming motion picture Independents directed by Greg Naughton. Kelli 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, Transformers. He has just completed work on the upcoming films Isle of Dogs, Bel Canto and Godzilla: King of Monsters.

Bartlett Sher won the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics’ Circle Awards for his direction of the Lincoln Center Theater’s production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific. He most recently directed the world premiere of J.T. Rogers’ play Oslo which opened on Broadway in July 2016 and has since transferred to London. His other theatre credits include; Fiddler On The Roof, Golden Boy, Blood & Gifts, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Awake and Sing!, and The Light in the Piazza. His other Broadway and off-Broadway credits include The Bridges of Madison County, Prayer for My Enemy, The Butterfly Collection, Cymbeline, Waste, Don Juan and Pericles. He directed the operas Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Le Comte Ory, L’Elisir d’Amore (Metropolitan Opera); Romeo et Juliette (Salzburg Festival and La Scala); Mourning Becomes Electra (Seattle Opera and New York City Opera); and Two Boys (Met and ENO). He was the Artistic Director of Seattle’s Intiman Theatre and was also a Resident Director of Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theatre.