Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-05-27
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Book and Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II; Music: Richard Rodgers. At: Lyric Opera of Chicago, 20 N. Wacker Dr. Tickets: 312-827-5600 or; $29-$199. Runs through: May 22

If the Lyric Opera of Chicago's presentation of The King and I had bowed at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora, it's likely that critics and audiences would fall over themselves to offer endless superlatives. But since it's being staged at the cavernous Civic Opera House, this 2014 production of The King and I imported from the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris comes off like it's lacking in some visual grandeur and vocal splendor.

Of course, director Lee Blakeley's King and I production debuted before the current Broadway revival of the same musical at Lincoln Center. Those who have seen that lavish Tony Award-winning staging might unfavorably find Paris set designer Jean-Marc Puissant's elegantly austere gold and silver-brushed panels and screens depicting 19th-century Siam ( now Thailand ) to be too restrained.

There's also the question of The King and I casting at the Lyric, which is unquestionably solid in its musical-theater bona fides. Tony nominee Kate Baldwin, as the school mistress Anna Leonowens, enjoyably spars with Paolo Montalban's handsome King of Siam throughout the show, and their Act II polka "Shall We Dance" sizzles with sexual tension.

Baldwin, in particular, sings rings around Gertrude Lawrence, the first Anna, as evidenced on the original 1951 Broadway cast recording. Yet one wishes Montalban was more vocally authoritative. Montalban doesn't quite escape the long shadow of the original King of Yul Brynner, whose shout-singing take on the song monologue "A Puzzlement" still remains emblematic.

One might have also wished for more weighty legit voices in the supporting cast, especially since the Lyric's previous productions of musicals by the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II featured such opera stars like Christine Brewer, Elizabeth Futral and Denyce Graves. A booming contralto would have been great for Lady Thiang's convincing number "Something Wonderful." Rona Figueroa is fine in the role, but more vocal heft would have been welcome.

Stronger voices come with the secondary tragic Burmese lovers Tuptim ( Ali Ewoldt ) and Lun Tha ( Sam Simahk ). They both shine in the duets "We Kiss in a Shadow" and "I Have Dreamed."

And there's no denying the high cuteness quotient that comes with the King's many royal children, as led by the confident Matthew Uzarraga as Crown Prince Chulalongkorn.

The Lyric's King and I also greatly benefits from designer Sue Blane's elaborate costumes and choreographer Peggy Hickey's fun work with the Act II "Small House of Uncle Thomas" ballet. It's also a pleasure to have the Lyric Opera Orchestra led by conductor David Chase to bring out the full aural colors of Rodgers' east-meet-west Broadway score.

What the Lyric offers with The King and I is perfectly respectable and often very pleasing. But it's understandable if you find yourself wishing for so much more.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Rufus Wainwright, LGBTQ films, Billy Porter, Janelle Monae 2020-05-27 - Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright unveiled the latest single from his eagerly anticipated new pop album, Unfollow the Rules, a press release noted. "Alone ...

Gay News

THEATER Pride in Place Festival brings LGBTQ theater to stay-at-home audiences 2020-05-26 - The upheaval of the Stonewall riots had barely settled before the weekend preceding Independence Day was set aside to honor the right of ...

Gay News

BAMtheatre starting virtual classes 2020-05-26 - In response to the stay-at-home and social distancing orders implemented by the COVID-19 pandemic, BAMtheatre has reimagined its musical theatre-focused programming through a ...

Gay News

Steppenwolf names first woman Executive Director 2020-05-22 - Steppenwolf Theatre Company announced that Brooke Flanagan—who previously worked at Steppenwolf for seven years—will return to the organization in the role of executive ...

Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW To Master the Art 2020-05-22 - Playwright: William Brown and Doug Frew. At: TimeLine Theatre, streaming. Tickets:; $15-$25. Runs through: June 7 TimeLine Theatre commissioned To ...

Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW School Girls; Or The African Mean Girls Play 2020-05-22 - Playwright: Jocelyn Bioh At: Goodman Theatre online at Tickets: $20. Runs through: May 31 Ranking in popularity on the list of ...

Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW The Happiest Place on Earth 2020-05-21 - Playwright: Philip Dawkins At: Sideshow Theatre online. Tickets:; $5+ ( pay what you can ). Runs through: Open run Playwright Philip ...

Gay News

Broadway In Chicago reschedules 'Frozen' 2020-05-21 - In response to the COVID-19 ( coronavirus ) pandemic, Broadway In Chicago announced that the upcoming engagement of Disney's Frozen—originally scheduled to run ...

Gay News

'SapphFest' to take place virtually May 28-29 2020-05-21 - On May 28-29 at 7:30 p.m., Violet Surprise Theatre will present SapphFest—a digital variety show celebrating queer women and non-binary artists from all ...

Gay News

First Folio to stream 'Cymbeline' in June 2020-05-19 - As a way to help address the absence of live theater performances, First Folio Theatre will offer a streaming video recording of the ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.