Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Q & A with Jose Llana, the new King of Siam in LCT’s Tony Award-Winning Revival of The King and I

Jose llana as The King of Siam in The King and I. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Jose llana as The King of Siam in The King and I. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Updated: 7/16/15

Tonight, Broadway vet Jose Llana joins Tony winners Kelli O’Hara and Ruthie Ann Miles (his Imelda from Here Lies Love) to perform the role of The King of Siam for a limited 11-week engagement through Sunday, September 27, in Lincoln Center Theater’s Tony Award-winning revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I, directed by Bartlett Sher, at the Vivian Beaumont Theater (150 West 65 Street).

Kelli O'Hara and Jose Llana in The King and I. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Kelli O’Hara and Jose Llana in The King and I. Photo by Paul Kolnik

The King and I is the winner of 4 2015 Tony Awards — Best Revival of a Musical, Best Actress in a Musical (Kelli O’Hara), Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Ruthie Ann Miles), and Best Costume Design of a Musical (Catherine Zuber).

Ruthie Ann Miles. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Ruthie Ann Miles. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Llana assumes the role from Tony Award nominee Ken Watanabe, who played his final performance on Sunday, July 12 to fulfill a prior film commitment in Japan.

Jose Llana and Hoon Lee to play King of Siam in Tony Award-winning production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I

Jose Llana gets fitted for his wig as The King of Siam for LCT's The King and I. Photo courtesy of The King and I Instagram

Jose Llana gets fitted for his wig as The King of Siam for LCT’s The King and I. Photo courtesy of The King and I Instagram

On the eve of his debut as The King, Llana answered a few questions via email.

Joohee Choi (Tuptim) and Jose Llana (Lun Tha) in the 1996 Broadway revival of The King and I. Photo by Joan Marcus

Joohee Choi (Tuptim) and Jose Llana (Lun Tha) in the 1996 Broadway revival of The King and I. Photo by Joan Marcus

Lia: You made your Broadway debut as Lun Tha in the 1996 Broadway revival of The King and I. What does it feel like to revisit the show in the role of The King of Siam?
Jose: It feels surreal. It’s been a very sentimental experience. The 1996 production was my Broadway debut and started my career. I love the show so much and am so fortunate to have it be such a huge part of my professional life.

Two Kings- Jose Llana and Ken Watanabe at Lincoln Center in New York on July 12, 2015. Photo: Twitter

Two Kings- Jose Llana and Ken Watanabe at Lincoln Center in New York on July 12, 2015. Photo: Twitter

Lia: Any tips from Ken Watanabe?
Jose: We knew our Kings would be quite different so there weren’t any “tips” to speak of. But something he did that I will always cherish was to show me a place backstage where he had set up a shrine where he prayed before every show for the safety and clarity of the whole cast and crew.  I plan on continuing that tradition during my run.

Jose Llana, Ruthie Ann Miles and Conrad Ricamora backstage at Here Lies Love at The Pubic Theater in New York (June, 2013). Photo by Lia Chang

Jose Llana, Ruthie Ann Miles and Conrad Ricamora backstage at Here Lies Love at The Pubic Theater in New York (June 9, 2013). Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: In The King and I, you will be working with many of your Here Lies Love crew. Has it been like old home week?

Jose: It has been a wonderful reunion, especially with Ruthie. Conrad and I don’t have much stage time together but it’s like moving into a new house where some really good friends already live so they can show you around.

Original Spelling Bee cast members (1st row) Jay Reiss, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Sarah Saltzberg, Deborah S. Craig, Lisa Howard (2nd row) Jose Llana, Derrick Baskin, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Dan Fogler at the afterparty at John Pizzeria in New York on July 6, 2015. Photo by Anita & Steve Shevett

Original Spelling Bee cast members (1st row) Jay Reiss, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Sarah Saltzberg, Deborah S. Craig, Lisa Howard (2nd row) Jose Llana, Derrick Baskin, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Dan Fogler at the afterparty at John Pizzeria in New York on July 6, 2015.
Photo by Anita & Steve Shevett

Lia: On July 6th, you got together with your original castmates from THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE including Derrick Baskin, Deborah S. Craig, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Dan Fogler, Lisa Howard, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Jay Reiss, and Sarah Saltzberg, for a 10th Anniversary Concert to benefit The Actors Fund’s Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, in memory of Andrea “Spook” Testani Gordon, your production stage manager of the original Broadway and off-Broadway production, who passed away on November 30, 2014 following a battle with cancer. What ensued?

Jose: An evening of silliness reconnecting with one of the funnest, most talented companies I’ve ever had the pleasure of calling friends.  And we were able to raise over $200,000 for the Actor’s Fund Women’s Health Initiative, all in honor of our beloved Spook Testani and her beautiful family.  It was a magical night… and HILARIOUS.

Theatermania: Original 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Stars Reunite for Benefit Concert

NBCnewyork.com: Broadway’s ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ Original Cast Reunites for Benefit Production

Jeigh Madjus, Jaygee Macapugay and Jose Llana in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse in New York on March 12, 2015. Photo by Kevin Yatarola

Jeigh Madjus, Jaygee Macapugay and Jose Llana in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse in New York on March 12, 2015. Photo by Kevin Yatarola

Lia: In March, you made your Lincoln Center American Songbook Debut, a culmination of your 19 years on the boards, to great critical acclaim. David Levy of Flavorpill.com writes, “Llana demonstrated that he is an exceptionally versatile performer, thrilling the audience with contemporary pop songs and Broadway standards alike… But the evening’s tour through his previous roles was a forceful reminder of his range, showcasing his romantic tenor in numbers from The King and I and On The Town and his facility with comedy in “My Unfortunate Erection” from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Can you elaborate on the upcoming recording?
Jose: I’m recording most of the concert and adding a few more songs, including “A Puzzlement” from The King & I. The plan is to record during my run at LCT and then plan some more concert dates in the late fall and winter to promote the album.

flavorpill.com: Jose Llana Thrills at American Songbook at Lincoln Center

New York Times: Review: Jose Llana Radiates Youthful Bravado in ‘American Songbook’

Photos: David Byrne, Alex Timbers, Jaygee Macapugay, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Adam Guettel, Sarah Saltzberg and More Celebrate Jose Llana’s Lincoln Center American Songbook Debut
Photos: In Rehearsal with Jose Llana; Set for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Debut on March 12

Jose Llana as Ferdinand Marcos in Here Lies Love at The Public Theater. Photo by Joan Marcus

Jose Llana as Ferdinand Marcos in Here Lies Love at The Public Theater. Photo by Joan Marcus

Jose Llana starred as President Marcos in the musical Here Lies Love at the Public Theater, for which he received a Lucille Lortel Award nomination. His Broadway credits include Wonderland, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Drama Desk Award), Flower Drum Song, Rent, Streetcorner Symphony, and the 1996 production of The King and I, in which he made his Broadway debut in the role of Lun Tha. His other off-Broadway credits include Saturn Returns (Public Theater), On The Town (Shakespeare in the Park), and Falling For Eve (York Theatre). He appeared in the national tour of the musical Martin Guerre and in regional theater in The Ballad of Little Joe at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre (Jefferson Award nomination), Myths and Hymns and Candide (Ethel Barrymore Award nomination) at Philadelphia’s Prince Music Theater, and as Bill Sykes in Oliver! at the Papermill Playhouse. His film and television credits include Hitch and “Sex and the City.” He is an advocate for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Broadway Impact for Marriage Equality, and several other charities.

Jaygee Macapugay, Jeigh Madjus, Enrico Rodriguez, Simon Kafka and Jose Llana. Photo by Lia Chang

Jaygee Macapugay, Jeigh Madjus, Enrico Rodriguez, Simon Kafka and Jose Llana. Photo by Lia Chang

In addition to the cast album recordings for The King and IFlower Drum SongThe 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling BeeWonderland, and Here Lies Love, Llana has been a guest artist on half a dozen benefit recordings for Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS. In 2003, Llana flew to the Philippines to fulfill his lifelong dream of performing in his homeland; his debut solo album, Jose (VIVA Philippines label), primarily in Tagalog (Filipino), peaked at number two on the Manila industry charts. The album is available in the U.S. at www.CDbaby.com.
www.josellana.com

Up Close and Personal with Jose Llana; HERE LIES LOVE Star Set for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Debut on March 12, 2015 

Ruthie Ann Miles, Kelli O'Hara and company. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Ruthie Ann Miles, Kelli O’Hara and company. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Ashley Park and Conrad Ricamora. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Ashley Park and Conrad Ricamora. Photo by Paul Kolnik

The King and I also features Ashley Park (as Tuptim), Conrad Ricamora (as Lun Tha), Edward Baker-Duly (as Sir Edward Ramsey), Jon Viktor Corpuz (as Prince Chulalongkorn), Murphy Guyer (as Captain Orton), Jake Lucas (as Louis), Paul Nakauchi (as Kralahome), and Marc Oka (as Phra Alack), and Aaron J. Albano, Adriana Braganza, Amaya Braganza,  LaMae Caparas, Hsin-Ping Chang, Andrew Cheng, Lynn Masako Cheng, Olivia Chun, Ali Ewoldt, Ethan Halford Holder, MaryAnn Hu, James Ignacio, Misa Iwama, Christie Kim, Q Lim, Kelvin Moon Loh, Sumie Maeda, Paul HeeSang Miller, Betsy Morgan, Rommel Pierre O’Choa, Kristen Faith Oei, Autumn Ogawa, Yuki Ozeki, Stephanie Jae Park, Bobby Pestka, Sam Poon, William Poon, Brian Rivera, Bennyroyce Royon, Lainie Sakakura, Ann Sanders, Ian Saraceni, Atsuhisa Shinomiya, Michiko Takemasa, Kei Tsuruharatani, Christopher Vo, Rocco Wu, Xiaochuan Xie, and Timothy Yang.

The King and I is performed Tuesday at 7pm, Wednesday at 2pm and 8pm, Thursday at 7pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm and 8pm, and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are available at the Lincoln Center Theater box office (150 West 65 Street), at telecharge.com, or by visiting KingandIBroadway.com. A limited number of tickets priced at $32 are available at every performance through LincTix, LCT’s program for 21 to 35 year olds. For information and to enroll, visit LincTix.org.

Kelli O'Hara and Jose Llana in The King and I. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Kelli O’Hara and Jose Llana in The King and I. Photo by Paul Kolnik

On Tuesday, September 29, immediately upon completion of filming his starring role on the fourth season of the Cinemax series “Banshee,” Hoon Lee will assume the role of The King,

Jose Llana as The King of Siam in The King and I. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Jose Llana as The King of Siam in The King and I. Photo by Paul Kolnik

cropped-lia-chang_photo-by-carlos-flores-3.jpg

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon and Taxman. She has guest starred on “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns,” and “New York Undercover.” She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

Related articles:
The King and I wins 4 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical, Kelli O’Hara (Best Leading Actress in a Musical), Ruthie Ann Miles (Best Featured Actress in a Musical) and Catherine Zuber (Best Costume Design) 
The King and I’s Ruthie Ann Miles Wins #TonyAwards for Best Featured Actress in a Musical 
Photos: 2015 Tony Award Winners and Performances
Jose Llana, Jill Paice,Telly Leung and more featured on TOKIO CONFIDENTIAL Recording; Set for Release May 12 
Photos: Late Night at HERE LIES LOVE with Jaygee Macapugay, David Byrne, Jose Llana, Conrad Ricamora, Melody Butiu and More 
Apple Video Podcast: New York Post Writer Michael Riedel Interviews David Byrne, Jaygee Macapugay, Jose Llana and Conrad Ricamora of Here Lies Love
Lucille Lortel Awards for Here Lies Love, Fun Home, The Open House, Good Person of Szechwan 
Jose Llana, Ruthie Ann Miles, Melody Butiu, Conrad Ricamora and More Open in David Byrne- Fatboy Slim’s Here Lies Love on May 1 
NYMF: Prison Dancer starring Jose Llana, Jeigh Madjus, Marc delaCruz, Catherine Ricafort, Moses Villarama, Cosmo Clemens, Enrico Rodriguez, Albert Guerzon, Andrew Eisenman and Nathan Ramos at Theatre at St. Clement’s, July 20-28, 2012 
Tony Award Winner Lea Salonga Leads Stellar Cast in First All-Filipino Concert for Philippine Development Foundation, “PhilDev Celebrates Broadway: Suites by Sondheim” at Alice Tully Hall 
Photos: Jose Llana, Stephanie Umoh & cast of Falling for Eve
The Making of the Flower Drum Song Cast Album 
Flower Drum Song, An American Story
Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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