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The King and I 1996

BCfitasafiddle
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The King and I 1996#1
Posted: 8/4/20 at 7:05pm

Hi all! 

I remember being in love with the production of The King and I that I saw in 1996 with Donna Murphy as a child. I'm listening to the cast album for the first time in a very long time... It's not how I remembered it to be LOL. So, my question(s) is.. what were your own thoughts on this revival in the 90s? I'm sure many of you were more mature than I was and could look at it from a critical way. Also, if you want to answer this next question, I'd love to hear!  Are there shows you revisit after years, having loved it when you saw it, but now you find it "Eh" or not how you remembered it to be? 

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CATSNYrevival
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The King and I 1996#2
Posted: 8/4/20 at 9:46pm

After the OBC this was my go to King and I cast album until the recent revival cast album came along. Now I haven't listened to it in years. Maybe I'll give it another go.

Broadway61004
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The King and I 1996#3
Posted: 8/4/20 at 9:54pm

BCfitasafiddle said: "Hi all!

I remember being in love with the production of The King and I that I saw in 1996 with Donna Murphy as a child. I'm listening to the cast album for the first time in a very long time... It's not how I remembered it to be LOL. So, my question(s) is.. what were your own thoughts on this revival in the 90s? I'm sure many of you were more mature than I was and could look at it from a critical way. Also, if you want to answer this next question, I'd love to hear! Are there shows you revisit after years, havinglovedit when you saw it, but now you find it "Eh" or not how you remembered it to be?
"

I felt the production overall was decent, although I felt the 2015 revival was better.  Lou Diamond Phillips surprised me in a good way, but I remember Donna Murphy being extremely under pitch the whole show (although her acting was fine).  It was a very lavishly designed production, sometimes to the detriment of it in my opinion as it sometimes overshadowed the actors.  However it was still stunning to look at.

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qolbinau
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The King and I 1996#4
Posted: 8/5/20 at 12:28pm

They revived the 1996 Christopher Renshaw production recently at the Sydney Opera House (though I don't know exactly how faithful it was of a reproduction), and I also saw the recent 2015 revival when it played London. I must say, beyond the cast and maybe occassionally more empty space in the 2015 revival I can't say I thought the productions were massively different (though of course I recognise that for someone who is a superfan of a show they might notice a lot of key details I missed). 

"Rose in Gypsy was like going through therapy for me. Playing Rose helped me put a lot of emotions to bed. There was so much lacking in Rose and that's why she had to prove herself through her children. [interviewer]In ways that reminded you of your mom?[/interviewer]. Let's just say the role was very interesting for me. That one was the most interesting [I've ever played]" - Bernadette Peters (2018)
Jarethan
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The King and I 1996#5
Posted: 8/5/20 at 2:49pm

I have seen 7 or 8 productions of TKAI, and I thought the 1996 version was tied with the recent LCT production for best.  The Lincoln Center version benefitted from the size of the stage and Bartlett Sher's ability to leverage it.  The 1996 version was all about Donna Murphy IMO.  

Kelly O'Hara, who should have won the Tony a couple of times before, did not deserve the Tony for TKAI to me.  She sang well, but was just too bland.  In addition to having a great voice, Murphy brought so much more to the role, including quite a bit of humor, which I had not noticed previously.  It was far and away the best performance of Anna that I have seen.  

I hav to admit that I love the OCR more than any other that I have heard, so maybe I just have a bias; but this was the first time that I actually realized what a great musical TKAI was and is.

theatreguy12
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The King and I 1996#6
Posted: 8/6/20 at 10:26am
I thought it was a great production. Murphy knocked it out of the park (better than O’Hara IMO), the production values were outstanding, and Jose Llana sang the hell out of his role, especially in “I Have Dreamed.” WAY better than Ricamora. Personal opinion.
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greensgreens
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The King and I 1996#7
Posted: 8/6/20 at 11:22am
Hayley Mills headlined the tour of this. It was something!
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henrikegerman
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The King and I 1996#8
Posted: 8/6/20 at 11:33am

It was gorgeous and very satisfying.  And LDP was terrific.

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carolinaguy
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The King and I 1996#9
Posted: 8/6/20 at 12:08pm

I remember the design being very lush with lots of huge pieces. Overall, I liked the design of the 2015 LCT production better (those weird hanging vines notwithstanding) because the '96 version often felt very heavy.

I liked Donna's acting a bit better too -- she was quite fierce early on, which made her gradual softening leading up to "Shall We Dance?" more effective.

I remember Lou being fine, but Watanabe was much more commanding in the more recent revival.

I saw a late preview and remember a very cute moment when one of the children forgot his line during one of the classroom scenes and Donna very gently led him through it.

I'm sending pictures of the most amazing trees/You'll be obsessed with all my forest expertise
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imeldasturn
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The King and I 1996#10
Posted: 8/6/20 at 12:18pm

Has anyone seen Faith Prince as Anna? It always seemed to me bizarre casting, she's a magnificent character actress (frankly I think of Miss Adelaide more as a supporting role than a leading one) but it's a role very different to anything else in her resume. I'm sure there's never been a funnier Ms Anna tho

Updated On: 8/6/20 at 12:18 PM
Jarethan
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The King and I 1996#11
Posted: 8/6/20 at 12:46pm

greensgreens said: "Hayley Mills headlined the tour of this. It was something!"

Curious if you are being ironic.  I saw her in Charlotte, NC, and thought she was not up to the demands of the role vocally.  Considering that Gertrude Lawrence had a pretty weak voice in the original production (I guess you had to be there), I thought she would be okay.  She did stay on key, but her voice was so thin that it left the performance for me without an 'anchor'.

Jarethan
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The King and I 1996#12
Posted: 8/6/20 at 12:49pm

imeldasturn said: "Has anyone seen Faith Prince as Anna? It always seemed to me bizarre casting, she's a magnificent character actress (frankly I think of Miss Adelaide more as a supporting role than a leading one) but it's a role very different to anything else in her resume. I'm sure there's never been a funnier Ms Anna tho"

I saw Faith Prince in it and, while I do not think she was a top Anna, I thought she was fine.  Much to my surprise, I felt that she brought a lot of warmth to the role, more than anyone I can recall, other than maybe Deborah Kerr in the movie.

Broadway61004
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The King and I 1996#13
Posted: 8/6/20 at 1:04pm

Jarethan said: "greensgreens said: "Hayley Mills headlined the tour of this. It was something!"

Curious if you are being ironic. I saw herin Charlotte, NC, and thought she was not up to the demands of the role vocally. Considering that Gertrude Lawrence had a pretty weak voice in the original production (I guessyou had to be there), I thought she would be okay. She didstay on key, but her voice was so thin that it left the performance for me without an 'anchor'.
"

I also saw this touring version but Mills was out the day I saw it.  I distinctly remember arriving to the theatre early, when it was still up in the air whether she was going on or not, and one of the staff saying to me "It looks like Hayley Mills may be out this evening....In other words, you may luck out."

SisterGeorge
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The King and I 1996#14
Posted: 8/6/20 at 1:14pm

We saw this production of THE KING AND I on a Sunday matinee, and at that evening's performance of RENT, we sat right behind The King himself (and his understudy?). Before we even saw their faces we knew who they were because of their unmistakable haircuts.

The first time I saw TKAI on stage was a couple of decades earlier, and we were lucky enough to catch, unplanned, Angela Lansbury during the two(?)three(?) weeks she played Anna while Brynner and Constance Towers were on vacation. It was such a big deal that they had a special Playbill with her on the cover. I think that's pretty unusual, right?

broadwayguy2
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The King and I 1996#15
Posted: 8/6/20 at 6:38pm

I loved this revival of The King and I. Far more than the LCT revival.

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Someone in a Tree2
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The King and I 1996#16
Posted: 8/6/20 at 7:05pm

I have very little recollection of the '96 revival, except to echo the raves for Lou Diamond Phillips. 

But I'll always remember the first production of TKAI I ever saw, the New London Barn Players summer-stock production of 1977 for which I'm proud to have designed the sets. Can't remember who played our Anna, but the King was assayed by none other than Gerard Allesandrini, who went on to fame and fortune as the creator of all those Forbidden Broadways. Good times...

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MichelleCraig
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The King and I 1996#17
Posted: 8/6/20 at 8:20pm

As a student, I'd seen Yul Brynner and Constance Towers in the 1977 Broadway revival. 19 years later, I saw the production with Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy and the cast album has been a favorite of mine ever since. I sometimes listen to the Brynner 1977 cast recording as I love how well the album was produced (Thomas Z. Shepard). I'm not a big fan of the most recent recording, but there's nothing really wrong with it; just my opinion

The thing I remember about the 1996 production is the sound design. I was sitting center orchestra, maybe 8 or 9 rows back. The sound was incredibly loud and very non-directional. It was truly like a "wall of sound"... For me, it sounded like there was no left, right or center...everything came at you in one massive aural assault. I don't know how else to describe it. There was no nuance. In time, as the production continued, I became used to it...but I've never heard anything like it since.

Both Murphy and Phillips were outstanding.

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Someone in a Tree2
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The King and I 1996#18
Posted: 8/6/20 at 10:20pm
Thankyou to whomever inquired about Faith Prince’s Anna in the ‘96 Revival. That’s who we saw in the show, having been in love Faith since Jerome Robbins’ Broadway and of course, the GUYS & DOLLS revival of 4 years earlier.
Sorry to say, we thought her casting was a dreadful mistake. She literally still employed the squeaks and verbal hiccups of the wacky Adelaide, which made no sense for the Welsh-born Anna. Just a total mismatch of actress and character.
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Fan123
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The King and I 1996#19
Posted: 8/6/20 at 10:37pm

Since we're talking about the 1996 revival, I'm wondering if anyone might be able to answer a question for me. I too saw the version of that production in Australia a few years ago. There was a brief moment after Anna had finished singing 'Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?', when she was alone in the throne room. She made a couple of halting steps towards the throne dais, as if she had half a mind to try out sitting on the throne. Then somebody came in and she abandoned the idea, embarrassed. It got a laugh. I was wondering if anyone here happens to remember whether or not that happened in the 1996 Broadway version? (I'm assuming here that it isn't in the script, though I may be wrong.) I was in two minds about it; on the one hand, it was rather over the top. But it did make the story seem a little more like a stoush between two like minds (and similarly huge egos), rather than the 'voice of reason vs petulant egotist' that it might have been.

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The King and I 1996#20
Posted: 8/7/20 at 9:30am

I never saw the 96 revival, but grew up listening to all the various cast albums. The vocals of the 96 recording are wonderful, but something about the recording always underwhelmed me...I think it feels very 'small' or empty somehow, maybe it doesn't have enough bass? By contrast, my favorite recording of the show is actual the studio album with Julie Andrews. It has a grand, cinematic quality and their are some very unusual casting choices that would never happen on stage but are interesting to hear (Peabo Bryson and Marilyn Horne specifically).

EvanstonDad
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The King and I 1996#21
Posted: 8/7/20 at 11:40am

I always think it's so interesting that people can have such different opinions about the same thing. Someone said they don't like the '96 recording because it's not full enough, whereas it's always been my favorite recording of the show precisely because it sounds so lush. I didn't see the Broadway show, but I did see the tour in Chicago. It was at the Auditorium Theatre, which is a barn, and I saw it on a weekend matinee that was virtually empty. The vastness of the theatre combined with the small audience took some of the gusto out of the production, but I enjoyed it. It didn't stray far in staging from other versions of the show I've seen, but it had nice design.

I watched some of the Lincoln Center Theatre production when it aired on PBS, and I was really underwhelmed by Kelli O'Hara. She was strangely humorless. The King and I is a very funny show, and while the King gets more of the obvious humor, Anna gets a lot of it too if played the right way. Deborah Kerr nailed it in the movie, and just based on the recording Donna Murphy gets it too. O'Hara didn't land a single laugh.

a-mad
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The King and I 1996#22
Posted: 8/7/20 at 12:32pm

I saw this in '96 and thought it was terrific.  Donna Murphy was outstanding... yes she does tend to sing a bit under pitch, but I've just gotten used to it and feel her voice is unique and powerful.  But what stood out to me was her acting.  She showed so much emotional range as Anna, and you could truly feel her transformation thoughout the show... and as others have said, she was really great at the light humor, esp with LDP.

Did any of you see Marie Osmond in the touring production?  I've seen a few clips and she looked and sounded great... but wondered how she did with the whole show. 

Updated On: 8/7/20 at 12:32 PM
Jarethan
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The King and I 1996#23
Posted: 8/7/20 at 2:49pm

Someone in a Tree2 said: "Thankyou to whomever inquired about Faith Prince’s Anna in the ‘96 Revival. That’s who we saw in the show, having been in love Faith since Jerome Robbins’ Broadway and of course, the GUYS & DOLLS revival of 4 years earlier.
Sorry to say, we thought her casting was a dreadful mistake. She literally still employed the squeaks and verbal hiccups of the wacky Adelaide, which made no sense for the Welsh-born Anna. Just a total mismatch of actress and character.
"

That is very interesting, since I did not experience that.  I saw her very late in the run; did you see it earlier?  (I am thinking that maybe her performance evolved to reflect feedback re the Adelaide issues.  As I said, I did not think she was a stand-out, I did think she was fine.  (I am not a particular fan in general).

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The King and I 1996#24
Posted: 8/7/20 at 3:15pm

I remember all the hype and Mary Rodgers saying "It's the best production I've ever seen--and I saw the original!" I wasn't a big fan of the recording and never saw that production onstage. I somewhat expected Lou Diamond Philips to appear in more shows after that, he was so well received. But it didn't happen, for one reason or another. 

The OBC, the film soundtrack and the 70's revival (though I'm not crazy about Constance Towers) remain my favorite recordings of the score.

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The King and I 1996#25
Posted: 8/11/20 at 11:22pm
Arriving at the theatre with all those elephants on the posters, my companion said that it looked like a revival of JUMBO. And when Donna Murphy made her first entrance swathed in widow's black, I whispered to my companion, "Mame, couldn't you have gone to purple by now?" The sets looked like Mardi Gras floats and we just giggled our way through the production. Not one of my favorites.
Well-well-well-what-do-you-think-of-that-I-have-nothing-here-to-pay-my-train-fare-with-only-large-bills-fives-and-sevens....
Updated On: 8/11/20 at 11:22 PM