Ken Watanabe will follow in the considerable footsteps of Yul Brynner when he takes on the role of the King of Siam in the upcoming Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I."
As previously announced, the production, from Lincoln Center Theater, will also star Kelli O'Hara. The musical revival is set to open at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York on April 16, 2015 and will be the first Broadway revival of the popular musical since the well-received 1996 staging with Donna Murphy and Lou Diamond Phillips.
The role will be Watanabe's Broadway debut, though the Oscar-nominated actor has appeared in theater productions in his native Japan.
"The King and I" was first seen on Broadway in 1951 with Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence. The subsequent movie version saw Brynner reprise his role, with Deborah Kerr taking over the role of Anna Leonowens, a British tutor hired to teach the royal family English and Western customs.
Brynner won an Oscar and Tony for his performances and ended up reprising the stage role a number of times throughout his career.
The musical is based on the book "Anna and the King of Siam," by Margaret Landon.
Bartlett Sher will direct the revival production, having recently collaborated with O'Hara on the musical version of "The Bridges of Madison County." In 2008, Sher teamed with Lincoln Center Theater to revive another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, "South Pacific," which also starred O'Hara.