BWW Reviews: THE KING AND I Starring Nonie Buencamino and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo

Nonie Buencamino plays King Mongkut; Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo plays Anna Leonowens in Resorts World Manila's production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's THE KING AND I, which runs until May (photo c/o Resorts World Manila)

By Jude Cartalaba

Manila, Philippines, January 28, 2013 -- Resorts World Manila's (RWM) Newport Performing Arts Theater recently raised its curtains for the new cast members of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I," Nonie Buencamino as King Mongkut and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as Anna Leonowens.

Besides the show's original alternate actor Shiela Valderrama-Martinez, RWM has picked a perfect Anna in Yulo: every word she uttered, every stage movement she demonstrated was done with so much grace and ease.

Buencamino, on the other hand, was surprisingly good as Bo Cerrudo's alternate for the role of the King. Buencamino's performance in last year's "Stageshow" by Tanghalang Pilipino was not quite impressive; but, here, he owned the stage, and stood out as the show's male lead actor. He was also excellent in his solo number "A Puzzlement."

Buencamino and Yulo's tandem certainly had palpable chemistry, which perhaps what original cast members Leo Valdez (King Mongkut) and Monique Wilson (Anna Leonowens) lacked.

Buencamino may not be a trained singer, but he managed to pull it off.

On Friday evening we watched the production, Marian Santiago played the slave girl Tuptim; Chuck Marbella played the emissary Lun Tha. Both delivered sensitive portrayals of their respective characters. Santiago's stunning operatic voice matched well with Marbella's strong musical theater singing.

However, we noticed the massive LED projection unit installed on stage failed to show the "pier images" during the scene in which Yulo's Leonowens was supposed to leave Siam. Was that another technical glitch on the heels of RWM's now-infamous cancellation of "Les Miserables" movie premiere early this year?

RWM's production of the beloved Broadway musical "The King and I" extends 'til May. It has earned the Aliw Awards for "Best Musical Production," "Best Stage Direction" (Freddie Santos), and "Best Actor" (Valdez).

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