The cast on national tour with Lincoln Center’s The King and I comprises an actor who has played two different characters in the musical on Broadway, n one-time awesome nanny and an actress who adored the film version as a child.
The Tony Award-winning revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic tale of clashing cultures has hit the road for a 19-city tour starring Laura Michelle Kelly as Anna, Jose Llana as the king and Manna Nichols as Tuptim.
The musical’s narrative centers around an english-women who educates the children of the king (based in 1860). The revival won the Tony Award in 2015 starring Ken Watanabe and Kelli O’Hara. Scores by Rodgers and Hammerstein include “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Shall We Dance” and ”Getting to Know You”.
Llana took over from Watanabe as the king on Broadway in two stints and knows the show very well: He made his Broadway debut in a 1996 revival, playing the part of Lun Tha, an character from the Prince of Burma.
“This show and ‘The King and I’ in general means a lot to me, personally,” he said.
“I couldn’t resist, especially with this amazing production,” she stated. “I knew it was time to put the corset back on.”
It’ll be Nichols’ first national tour but Llana is an ace, having traveled with Martin Guerre and Flower Drum Song. He’s looking forward to the “King and I” making a stop next summer at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., his hometown. He intends to stay with his parents and insist the cast will be fed by his mother.
The Broadway credits of Llana, whose, is looking forward to Los Angeles and Philadelphia, where is friends are; and stops in Boston, where his sister lives.
“This tour is a really wonderful opportunity not just to bring The King and I and this beautiful production around the country but to really catch up with a lot of family and friends,” he stated. “For once, it’s nice for me to bring the show to them.”