Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai) and five-time Tony nominee Kelli O’Hara (The Bridges of Madison County, South Pacific, The Pajama Game) will co-star in a revival of the classic Broadway musical The King and I for Lincoln Center Theater. The Rodgers & Hammerstein favorite will begin previews on March 12, 2015 at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre in advance of an April 16 opening.
The production will be directed by Tony winner Bartlett Sher who collaborated with O’Hara on South Pacific and The Light in the Piazza. Jerome Robbins’ original choreography will be recreated with musical staging by Tony winner Christopher Gattelli (Newsies).
This will mark Watanabe’s American stage debut. In addition to The Last Samurai, his film credits include Godzilla, Letters from Iwo Jima, Inception, Batman Begins and Memoirs of a Geisha. His Japanese stage work includes roles in Hamlet, The Lion in Winter and The Royal Hunt of the Sun. He will be playing the King of Siam, the role made famous by Yul Brynner in the original 1951 Broadway production (opposite Gertrude Lawrence), the 1956 film version (with Deborah Kerr) and revivals in 1977 and 1985. There was also a Broadway revival in 1996 starring Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy.
Based on Margaret Landon’s 1944 novel, Anna and the King of Siam, the show tells the story of British Anna Leonowens traveling from Victorian London to exotic Bangkok to become the governess for the many children of the imperious monarch.