The King and I
Credits | Reviews ⇓
Written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, 1951
Directed by Lee Blakeley
Choreographed by Peggy Hickey after Jerome Robbins
Stage Design by Jean-Marc Puissant
Costume Design by Sue Blane
Lighting Design by Rick Fisher
Design Assistant: Laurène Gitton
Production Manager: Lucia Goj
Head Painter: Marisol Coquet
Props Master: Florence Marques
Images © courtesy of Lyric Opera Chicago, Théâtre du Châtelet
Jean-Marc Puissant’s décor sumptuously evokes Oriental splendor with golden panels inspired by screens, both old and new.
The New York Times
At the core of this project was the rare opportunity to create a new version of a mythical musical performed by a live symphonic-size orchestra. The sonic scale of the score brought a genuine Hollywoodian scale to the show. With that in mind, we felt we could inform the production with sources closer to Margaret Landon’s 1944 novel, Anna and the King of Siam.
Our production is seen from the memory of Louis, Anna’s son, and the lens of his photographic camera. Sue Blane and I set out to create a world composed from Louis’ childhood memories, black and white photos he would have kept, and Anna’s bold fantasy of Siam, her romantic imagination and sense of adventure.
A multitude of panels and curtains reconfigure the stage according to the emotional scale of scenes. Cinematic irises open and close, revealing and disappearing rooms and locations, bringing into focus one main decorative element. Developed in collaboration with Marisol Coquet, the Châtelet’s Head Painter, these panels and curtains, made of metallic paint transferred onto black cloth, bring echos of the photographic process, textures of aged antics and a more general sense of palatial opulence.
Developing and expanding traditional Thai patterns into theatrical scale proportions, large walls made out of gold grids act as sharp counterpoints this soft focus, painterly world. They transform the space into a royal palace, a prison, or both.
The New York Times by George Loomis
Jean-Marc Puissant’s décor sumptuously evokes Oriental splendor with golden panels inspired by screens, both old and new. Elaborate wood pieces with geometric designs serve for the king’s throne and private quarters.
The Théâtre du Châtelet’s latest achievement is a grand new staging of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” by Lee Blakeley that has set French critics searching for superlatives.
Chicago Tribune by Chris Jones
Word has been that the powerful R&H organization have been enamored of the original French staging, and one can see why. Blakeley directs with great visual skill — he uses the depth of the Civic Opera House to reveal all the byways of the palace, the earnest processionals moving in self-canceling directions. The setting by Jean-Marc Puissant offers up a gorgeous juxtaposition of shimmering, bejeweled opulence with hard drops that fall and divide like the blades of guillotines.
Broadway World by Rachel Weinberg
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical The King And I is heightened to the lavish and beautiful spectacle it deserves.
Visually, the creative team captures every inch of the musical’s opulence.
Jean-March Puissant’s set design also captures the grandiosity of a royal palace with many intricate details, while also giving the performers the space they need to execute the choreography
Chicago Theatre Review by Colin Douglas
The stunning visual beauty, opulence and splendor of King Mongkut’s Siamese palace falls to set designer Jean-Marc Puissant, with his stunning, Asian-influenced sliding panels and lattice work.
Grand scale visual and musical extravaganza weaves across the Lyric stage.