Leading cast announced for Opera Australia’s The King and I

Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes will star in the Opera Australia/Gordon Frost Organisation revival of the Tony-award winning Australian production of The King and I, which will play across Australia in 2014.

Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes will star in The King and I for Opera Australia.
Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes will star in The King and I for Opera Australia.

Lisa McCune, the four-time Gold Logie winner, plays English governess Anna Leonowens, while internationally acclaimed opera singer Teddy Tahu Rhodes takes on his second musical theatre role as the King of Siam.

Hot from their success playing opposite each other in the glorious South Pacific, also presented by Opera Australia and John Frost, the pair will headline the Brisbane and Sydney seasons. Lisa McCune will also star in Melbourne, where the King will be played by an international artist to be announced at a later date.

Chinese-born Australian opera singer Shu-Cheen Yu plays Lady Thiang, the King’s chief wife, returning to the production 23 years after playing the young Burmese slave girl Tuptim in 1991.

 Adrian Li Donni takes on the role of Lun Tha, the Burmese scholar and envoy who is secretly in love with Tuptim, a role he played for the Production Company in Melbourne in 2010 and in the US the year before that.

“I’m thrilled with the wonderful cast we’ve assembled for The King and I,” said John Frost.

“I know this production will be as magnificent as the original, which is remembered as a milestone in Australian theatrical history.”

Opera Australia Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini said “Teddy and Lisa coming together worked wonderfully well in South Pacific and it seemed to us that we should capitalise on that success and continue with it.

“They were both terrific in South Pacific and the audience really responded to them as I’m sure they will in The King and I,”

The King and I was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s fifth musical. Based on Margaret Landon’s 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam, it takes its inspiration from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, a British governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam (now Thailand) in the early 1860s. It opened on Broadway in 1951, and was made into a film starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner in 1956.

John Frost’s now legendary Australian production premiered at the Adelaide Festival Theatre in 1991. Directed by West End director Christopher Renshaw and starring Hayley Mills as Anna, the production then went on to win four Tony Awards on Broadway in 1996: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical (Donna Murphy), Best Scenic Design (Brian Thomson) and Best Costume Design (Roger Kirk).

The Broadway season was followed by a US tour. In 2000, the production opened at the London Palladium with Elaine Paige as Anna where it played for nearly two years before embarking on a UK tour.

Christopher Renshaw will return to Australia next year to revive the production, with its stunning Thai-inspired set design by Brian Thomson, costumes by Roger Kirk and lighting by Nigel Levings. Susan Kikuchi will recreate the original Jerome Robbins choreography as well as the choreography of her mother Yuriko who appeared in the 1951 Broadway production and the 1956 film.

The King and I opens in Brisbane at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in April 2014, then moves to the Princess Theatre, Melbourne in June, followed by a Sydney season at the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House in September. For more information visit www.thekingandimusical.com.au.

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and is the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue

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