Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Getting To Know Kelli (Music Thoughts: The King & I 2015 Broadway Cast Recording)

"The King & I" won a couple of awards Sunday night at The Tony Awards, and it inspired me to listen to its recently released cast recording. This score is one I know in and out, one of my earliest memories of listening to cast recordings. (I think I was more acquainted with the film soundtrack, though, before I first heard the 1951 Cast Recording) I am not even going to compare this to previous recordings, as I am one of those purists who almost always prefer original casts. So I will take this recording as it is - a representation of the current Lincoln Center revival now playing at The Vivian Beaumont. And what a glorious recording of a glorious score. there is such profound richness in Richard Rodgers' music, and Oscar Hammerstein's lyrics still resonate and make me think. And if there's only one reason for this recording to exist, it is to preserve Kelli O Hara's Tony award winning performance. She is as close to perfection here: that soaring soprano, and you can see her go through vulnerability, hurt, and strength all in one sitting. She is joyous, luminous in "Getting To Know You," and in Anna's dramatic soliloquy, "Shall I Tell Him What I Think Of Him," she is defiant, a pillar of her principles.  A lot of people have complained about Ken Watanabe's diction, but here on the recording, his accent (he learned the role phonetically) just enhances his charming take as The King. Ruth Ann Miles is also great here, and you can see why she won a Tony as well. To my ears, the orchestra is a bit thinner, but nowadays, what isn't? I will proudly file this recordings with previous Kings and Annas.

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