Picks and Pans Review: The King and I
It's not just that the characters are cartoons, in every sense of the word, that makes this animated King and I different from the earlier stage and 1956 screen versions of Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved musical. Liberties—both big and small, and most of them dumb—have been taken with the plot and characters. Anna, the widowed British teacher, still experiences severe culture shock when she moves to Siam in the mid-1800s to teach the children of the country's monarch, but now the King stages a wholly new, ridiculous climactic rescue mission in a hot-air balloon. That will really excite kids raised on Power Rangers. What's next? A Sound of Music in which Maria dances the hoochiecoochie to distract the Nazis?
The show's songs, mercifully, remain, and a lovely bunch they are, including "Shall We Dance?" and "Getting to Know You." Unfortunately they are sung here (mostly by Broadway vet Christiane Noll) in severely shortened versions. (G)
Bottom Line: No cause for whistling a happy tune