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Critic’s Choice: Regal theatrical treat ‘The King and I’ in Lincolnshire

With its dreamy music, romantic lyrics and enchanting choreography, “The King and I” remains a tour de force – one that has lost none of its vibrancy since making its Broadway premiere in March 1951.

As staged at the Marriott Theatre, the intimate show shines with a cast that goes all out to give a stirring performance under Nick Bowling’s fine-tuned direction, with music direction by Ryan T. Nelson and choreography by Tommy Rapley.

This timeless work, an audience favorite, was created by the duo of composer Richard Rodgers and dramatist Oscar Hammerstein. It was based on a 1944 novel by Margaret Landon, “Anna and the King of Siam,” which in turn drew from memoirs of Anna Leonowens, a widowed British governess who tutored the children of the King of Siam (now known as Thailand) during the 1860s.

Heidi Kettenring shines in the role of Anna, the strong-willed teacher who arrived from Bangkok and has her work cut out for her tutoring the royal children and helping Siam’s tradition-bound mighty ruler (Andrew Ramcharan Guilarte) to usher his country into the modern world and to shake off any western critics who might portray him as a barbarian.

Kettenring dazzles with her lilting voice, unfailingly drawing applause as she sang showstoppers such as “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Getting to Know You,” and “Hello Young Lovers.” She and Guilarte brought down the house with a moving rendition of “Shall We Dance.”

There are no slouches in this cast. Kristen Choi as Lady Thiang, the king’s chief wife, wowed with her big, expressive voice (“Something Wonderful”). There was good work, too, by Tuptim (Megan Masako Haley) and Lun Tha (Devin Ilaw), a couple who must keep their feelings for one another under wraps (“We Kiss in a Shadow”).

Especially impressive was the well-trained children in the cast led by Michael Semanic as Louis, Anna’s young son, and Matthew Uzarraga, as Chulalongkorn, a young prince and heir-apparent who already has acquired a kingly demeanor beyond his years.

A lively chorus kept the momentum going, particularly during the second act’s play-within-a-play, a fanciful ballet riff on Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

This “King and I” production pleases at every turn – visually, aurally and emotionally.