'The King and I' Around the World: Ken Watanabe and Kelli O'Hara Cast in Broadway Revival, Lou Diamond Phillips in Melbourne

By Jon Sobel on Jul 02, 2014 12:30 PM EDT

Ken Watanabe and Kelli O'Hara will head the cast of a Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I next year at Lincoln Center.

Directed by Bartlett Sher, who won a Tony Award for his 2008 revival of South Pacific, the production will use Jerome Robbins's original choreography and Robert Russell Bennett's original orchestrations.

Meanwhile, 10,000 miles away, Lou Diamond Phillips is taking over the role of the King of Siam in another production of The King and I in Melbourne, Australia. Phillips is more than familiar with the role, having performed it over 550 times in the last Broadway revival, in 1996, opposite Donna Murphy.

In Melbourne he takes over from Jason Scott Lee who tore a calf muscle and has had to withdraw. "I am honored to once again inhabit the role of The King," Phillips said. "Since receiving the mantel from Mr. Brynner, I have great passion and respect for the role and am especially excited to bring my interpretation to a new continent." Phillips will appear in the Princess Theatre production July 10 - August 31.

Back in the States, Sher will reunite for the Lincoln Center production with the creative team from his Tony-winning South Pacific, including musical director Ted Sperling, sound designer Scott Lehrer, scenic designer Michael Yeargan, lighting designer Donald Holder and costume designer Catherine Zuber.

The revival is scheduled to begin previews at the Vivian Beaumont Theater on March 12, 2015, with an official opening date of April 16.

It will mark Ken Watanabe's American stage debut. In Japan he has appeared in productions of Hamlet, The Lion in Winter and The Royal Hunt of the Sun among others. He's best known in America for films including Batman Begins, Letters from Iwo Jima, The Last Samurai, Memoirs of a Geisha and Inception.

O'Hara, by contrast, is a five-time Tony nominee who has appeared on Broadway in numerous musicals including South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza and, most recently, The Bridges of Madison County, receiving Tony Award nominations for Best Actress in a Musical for all three.

The King and I is based on Margaret Landon's 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam and its source, the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, the King's children's governess in the early 1860s. The original Broadway production opened in 1951 starring Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence. It ran for 1,246 performances. Brynner reprised the role in the 1956 film adaptation opposite Deborah Kerr. The movie won five Academy Awards, including a Best Actor trophy for Brynner.

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TagsThe King and I, Ken Watanabe, Kelli O'Hara, Lou Diamond Phillips, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Yul Brynner, Lincoln Center, broadway, Broadway Musical, musical theater, Musical, Jerome Robbins, Bartlett Sher

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