Ken Watanabe to make Broadway debut in 'The King and I'


Actor Ken Watanabe says he is ready for the challenge of a lifetime as he prepares for his first Broadway performance in "The King and I."

This will be the first musical for Watanabe, 54, and his first performance ever on a foreign theatere stage. The play will begin on April 16 next year and run until the end of June at the Lincoln Center in New York City.

Watanabe told reporters in Tokyo that it will be one of the greatest challenges of his life, and said that he was entirely prepared to devote all of his body, mind and spirit for his Broadway musical debut, Sports Nippon reported Wednesday.

Although Watanabe has appeared in many Hollywood films, he said it has been a dream of his to perform on Broadway. Having started his acting career with a theater troupe in Tokyo in the late 1970s, Watanabe said he always had a strong desire to return to the stage. "I feel truly humbled by the opportunity to finally test all that I have learned while performing both on the screen and at on stage in my youth," he said.

"The King and I" was last performed on Broadway 19 years ago. Watanabe will play the role of the king and will be appearing alongside 25-year-old Tony Award nominee Kelli O'Hara.

Watanabe was originally offered the role last year while still filming the American reboot of the Japanese cult classic, "Godzilla." Critically acclaimed director Bartlett Sherr persuaded Watanabe to take the role. "We aren't looking for the best singer, or the best dancer. No, we want the king," he said, according to Sports Nippon.

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Ken Watanabe as the Thai king in The King and I, eh? I wonder what he will look like with a shaved head, and the comparison to Yul Brynner's wonderful performance will be interesting!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We love you Ken. Break a leg.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

When i saw the title, i let out a gasp (i'm on the train). He will nail this! Absolutely own it! If ever there was a role made for someone, this is it... Forget history. Think about his amazing acting skills.

Mr. Watsnabe, this is YOUR role. I only wish I could see it

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I'm a straight man but I gotta admit I like this guy. (And his daughter looks nice in her Time Scoop uniform ;-))

3 ( +3 / -0 )

omg! i so wanna be in NY then. im betting its gonna be awesome!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You will rock the Great White Way Watanabe-san!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I love the guy and nothing against him, his acting is amazing but he English is terrible.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Can hardly wait to see him do "Sharu wi dansu?"

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I didn't know he could sing and dance.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No need to worry about perfect English. The King of Thailand does not speak perfect English in the movie, so I imagine Ken Watanabe will do very well. Hope we can see some clips of it after it comes out. Good luck!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I once had the treat of seeing the legendary Rudolf Nureyev perform the title role in "The King and I". And now this classic musical is returning to Broadway with Ken Watanabe taking his turn as the magnificent King of Siam. My heart's all a flutter!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Watanabe seems like a perfect match for this role. It would be cool if he did a remake of the movie.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Kinda excited to hear the news, so I was thinking that when i travel to Japan next year, i'll stop by NYC to see him on stage! I also think the comparison will be with Yul Breener, although I prefer it is called the King of Siam due to the time of the play..

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Great news, I would love to see him in this role!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Love Ken! Love the King and I story (even if it is just a story)! A match made in heaven.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I love this guy, glad to see him get this chance!

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SerranoJUL. 03, 2014 - 07:12AM JST Ken Watanabe as the Thai king in The King and I, eh? I wonder what he will look like with a shaved head, and the comparison to Yul Brynner's wonderful performance will be interesting!

Then you should watch The last samurai film :) then you know how Ken look like with shaved head.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Something good to look forward too!!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I love this guy and it's a bit my double ....:-)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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