Broadway Theater – “The King and I,” “An American In Paris,” and “The Visit”

This review aired on KBAQ May 21, 2015

SIX NEW BROADWAY MUSICALS – HOW GOOD ARE THEY?

BROADWAY REVIEW TWO
“The King and I,” “An American In Paris,” and “The Visit”
New York, NY

Earlier, I reviewed two plays I recently saw on Broadway.  Today, I’ll analyze three of the six musicals I enjoyed including an opulent “The King and I,” a masterful stage adaptation of the film musical “An American In Paris,” and “The Visit,” a depressing but musically brilliant 10-year-old show starring the radiant Broadway star, Chita Rivera.

If I had to single out the best of these musicals, it is the stunning “The King and I” revival.  Director Bartlett Sher finds a myriad of small changes from the original stage version influenced by Yul Brynner’s performance as the King that is usually presented.

Kelli O’Hara’s revelatory Anna is the revival’s finest performance.  She’s the English schoolteacher who goes to Siam in 1862 to teach the King’s children and wives.  O’Hara’s subtle changes transform Anna into a contemporary woman without destroying the part as she persuades the King to treat her as an equal to men.  O’Hara’s beautiful singing gives the Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes a sparkling brilliance.  There’s a funnier and less stodgy King by Japanese movie star Ken Watanabe who reveals the role’s comedy nuances.  Everyone else in the huge cast, including the many children, is remarkable.  The gorgeous sets and colorful oriental costumes are lush while Anna’s magnificent hoop skirts allow O’Hara to glide around with poise and beauty.  If you have time for only one Broadway show, “The King and I” is a stunner if you can get tickets.  For “The King and I” tickets, call the Telecharge box office at 212-239-6200 or order tickets online at www.kingandibroadway.com.

The new stage adaptation of 1951’s “An American In Paris” is another sold-out Broadway gem with great dancing, remarkable locales, and a superlative cast that provides welcome character changes from the film.  The George and Ira Gershwin score glistens as “An American In Paris” dazzles and entertains mightily.  For “An American In Paris” tickets, call the Ticketmaster box office at 877-250-2929 or order tickets online at www.anamericaninparisbroadway.com.

Chita Rivera became a Broadway icon in the original “West Side Story” after earlier roles in several musicals.  At 82-years old, Rivera returns as the star of “The Visit” in its Broadway debut with songs by “Cabaret’s” Kander and Ebb.  Rivera is Claire, a woman who abandoned her humble hometown after a sad romance with Anton.  Now the richest woman in the world, Claire returns to haunt Anton.  Is she there to rekindle her old romance or does she plan revenge against Anton?  Like the play “The Visit” is based on, the musical answers the question but adds several interesting songs making it a special musical.  For “The Visit” tickets, call the Telecharge box office at 212-239-6200 or order tickets online at www.thevisitmusical.com.

In my final Broadway segment, I will review the other three musicals I saw – a funny “Something Rotten,” an epic musical adaptation of “Doctor Zhivago,” and a disappointing version of the award-winning film musical “Gigi.”