When the Broadway revival of “The King & I” opened earlier this year, I noticed with some interest that it won four Tony awards: for best musical revival, best leading actress, best supporting actress and best costumes. Since it is one of the very few musicals that I grew up with, I thought it might be worthwhile to try and go see it. Soon after the Tonys, we got tickets for a show in November, six months ahead of time.
Well, this weekend, the time had come. It entailed a 4 1/2 hour bus ride to NYC at 8:30 a.m., getting a bite to eat and getting to Lincoln Center for the 2 p.m. matinee. Then, getting out around 5 p.m., looking for a taxi on a Saturday and getting to Port Authority bus station in time to make the long trek to gate 83 and the 6 p.m. bus back to Hartford via New Haven and New Britain, then transferring to a bus to Worcester due in at 10:30 p.m. If you’re reading this, your reaction might have been similar to mine – which was, “I sure hope this show is worth it!”
We arrived at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre where the cabbie dropped us off at the street level elevator that took us right up to the plaza entrance of the theatre. Inside was medium sized theater and our loge seats were located in the front row balcony center so close that we didn’t need the opera binoculars we had brought along. (Many thanks to George for treating us to these great seats too!) In fact, when the show began, the stage FLOOR extended out over the orchestra pit and it was like viewing a theatre in the round.
I was relieved to see that Kelli O’Hara was singing the lead because she had won the Tony for leading lady. But as the orchestra played the overture, I realized for the first time that one of my all-time favorite songs from the movie “American President” (when Michael Douglas dances with Annette Bening) was originally part of the libretto for “The King and I” and called “I Have Dreamed.”
The entire cast performed at the same high level as Kelli O’Hara; the sets were incredibly beautiful and the energy of the entire ensemble was one of relaxed joy and pleasure in performing this wonderful show for the audience. Especially impressive was the “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” ballet featuring little Eliza running away from the evil Simon LaGree – hopping gracefully on one foot. It was truly wonderful.
So, was it worth it? You betcha! And we found a taxi back to the bus station by walking two blocks so that we could catch one of the cabs going downtown around 5:10 p.m. We sat in traffic for over 20 minutes but made it just in time to board our 6 p.m. bus.
And this morning, I discovered a recording of “I Have Dreamed” arranged by John Williams which he conducted and recorded with the Boston Pops Orchestra. I made copies of it to play in our cars and gave one to Caitlin for her trip home.
Sigh. Life is (so) good!