Tony nominee Ken Watanabe, who left to shoot a film in Japan, played his final performance as the King July 12. He was succeeded on July 14 by Jose Llana, who recently completed a run as another singing Southeast Asian potentate, President Ferdinand Marcos, in the Off-Broadway musical Here Lies Love. He joins fellow Here Lies Love alumni Conrad Ricamora and Tony winner Ruthie Ann Miles, who play Lun Tha and Lady Thiang, respectively.
Llana will play the King for 11 weeks through Sept. 27, followed by Hoon Lee, who begins Sept. 29, immediately upon completion of filming his starring role on the fourth season of the Cinemax series “Banshee."
They will all play opposite 2015 Tony-winning Best Actress in a Musical Kelli O'Hara. Bartlett Sher, who earned a Tony Award for the 2008 Lincoln Center Theater Broadway revival of South Pacific, directed The King and I, which opened April 16 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater and won the 2015 Tony Award as Best Revival of a Musical.
Read: After 10 Years of Musicals, There's Still An Audition Kelli O'Hara Won't Let Bartlett Sher Forget The principal cast also includes Ashley Park (Mamma Mia!) as Tuptim, Edward Baker-Duly (Peter and the Starcatcher) as Sir Edward Ramsey, Jon Viktor Corpuz (A Midsummer Night's Dream) as Prince Chulalongkorn, Murphy Guyer (South Pacific) as Captain Orton, Jakes Lucas (Newsies) as Louis, Paul Nakauchi (Chu Chem) as Kralahome and Marc Oka (Anything Goes) as Phra Alack.
Also featured are Aaron Albano, Adriana Braganza, Amaya Braganza, Billy Bustamante, LaMae Caparas, Hsin-Ping Chang, Andrew Cheng, Lynn Masako Cheng, Olivia Chun, Ali Ewoldt, Ethan Halford Holder, Cole Horibe, MaryAnn Hu, James Ignacio, Christie Kim, Kelvin Moon Loh, Sumie Maeda, Paul HeeSang Miller, Betsy Morgan, Rommel Pierre O’Choa, Kristen Faith Oei, Autumn Ogawa, Yuki Ozeki, Stephanie Jae Park, Diane Phelan, Sam Poon, William Poon, Brian Rivera, Bennyroyce Royon, Lainie Sakakura, Ann Sanders, Ian Saraceni, Atsuhisa Shinomiya, Michiko Takemasa, Kei Tsuruharatani, Christopher Vo, Rocco Wu and Timothy Yang.
The revival has choreography by Tony Award winner Christopher Gattelli (South Pacific, Newsies) based on the original choreography by Jerome Robbins. The original Robert Russell Bennett orchestrations are also being used with dance and incidental music arranged by Trude Rittmann.
The King and I reunites Sher with his Tony-winning South Pacific creative team, including scenic designer Michael Yeargan, costume designer Catherine Zuber, lighting designer Donald Holder, sound designer Scott Lehrer and musical director Ted Sperling. Casting is by Telsey + Company/Abbie Brady-Dalton, CSA.
O'Hara's history with Lincoln Center Theater includes the Sher-directed productions of The Light in the Piazza and South Pacific. She most recently collaborated with Sher on The Bridges of Madison County. Her stage appearances also include Sweet Smell of Success, The Pajama Game and Nice Work If You Can Get It.
The King and I marked Watanabe's American stage debut. His film work includes "The Last Samurai," "Inception," "Letters from Iwo Jima," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "Batman Begins" and "Godzilla." His Japanese theatre credits include Dialogue with Horowitz, Hamlet, Shitayamannen-cho monogatari, The Lion in Winter and The Royal Hunt of the Sun.
The Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical, based on the life of Anna Leonowens as well as Margaret Landon's 1944 novel "Anna and the King of Siam," includes classics such as "Hello Young Lovers," "I Whistle A Happy Tune," "Shall We Dance?" and "Getting To Know You."
The original production opened March 29, 1951, at the St. James Theatre. It starred Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence and ran for 1,246 performances. The King and I has been revived on Broadway three times; the most recent production starred Donna Murphy and Lou Diamond Phillips.
According to LCT, "Set in 1860's 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."