” and the fiercely tender “Something Wonderful.” Sher further understands that, however often these songs have been assayed by community-theater stalwarts, they beg for ravishing, classically trained voices. Kelly, who copped an Olivier Award for her portrayal of the flying governess in “Mary Poppins” and played Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, the “Peter Pan” mom of “Finding Neverland” — at American Repertory Theater and on Broadway — excels at the full-throated numbers like “Hello, Young Lovers” and “Shall We Dance?” She also puts heft into her characterization of Anna as a strong, spiky but also warm woman, adoring of her charges and defying the king, in defense of women and other humans, at a terrible cost to her heart.This eruptive, posturing, sarcastic King is quite funny — as is the sequence in which Anna, impeded by her skirt hoops, tries out of respect to keep her head below that of the lolling monarch. But Llana is not so scathing or clownish as to render unmoving the King’s ultimate defeat.
But he is unique in adding to that linguistic acumen snarky 21st-century inflections.
The elder of the later pair, Sophocles is often seen as the best playwright of the three—in the general estimation of many in the scholarly community, Sophocles remains the finest exponent of tragic arts ever—and certainly his polished dramas were very well-respected in the Classical Age, as they have been for the most part ever since.
It is somewhat ironic to note, then, that interest in his drama in performance seems to have waned fairly soon after his lifetime.
Still, for those who think there can be no “King and I” without the bald-pated hauteur of Yul Brynner, this sumptuous production will prove a revelation.
Brynner dominated not only the original staging and the 1956 film, but also the musical’s 1970s and 1980s Broadway revivals.