Lou Diamond Phillips to replace Jason Scott Lee in The King and I, Melbourne


Opera Australia’s Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini and John Frost from GFO have announced that international star Jason Scott Lee has withdrawn from the Melbourne season of The King and I after tearing a calf muscle during a performance.

Lou Diamond Phillips. Image supplied
Lou Diamond Phillips. Image supplied

Lee, who had performed the role of the King of Siam at the London Palladium in 2000 flew into Melbourne just over 4 weeks ago to star opposite Lisa McCune in this Tony Award winning revival production, taking over from opera star Teddy Tahu Rhodes.

Since Lee’s injury, the show has seen Teddy Tahu Rhodes return to the stage for one performance and understudy Chris Fung perform the role opposite Lisa McCune, keeping the curtain up.

It has been confirmed today however, that American actor Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba, Young Guns) will replace Lee, and is set to ascend the throne shortly at the Princess Theatre. Phillips made his Broadway debut in John Frost’s 1996 production of The King and I playing the role of the King more than 550 times, receiving both Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations and winning a Theatre World Award for his performance.

It is understood Phillips will fly to Australia later this week after completing filming on a TV series in the USA. Phillips will then rehearse with the Australian cast and his first performance will be scheduled for July 10. Chris Fung will continue to perform the role of the King in the interim.

“I’m thrilled that Lou has a gap in his schedule which enables him to make his Australian stage debut for the Melbourne season of The King and I. Jason made a wonderful King and we are very sorry that his injury means he can’t continue,” said Lyndon Terracini.

Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy on Broadway 1996. Image by Joan Marcus
Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy on Broadway 1996. Image by Joan Marcus

John Frost concurred, saying, “It provides a unique opportunity for Melbourne audiences to witness the wonderful Lou Diamond Phillips, who was so extraordinary in the role on Broadway. It is so rare for a Tony nominated star to come to Australia to recreate their performance.”

Phillips is well known to audiences for his performance as Ritchie Valens in the film La Bamba. Other notable films in which Phillips has starred include Courage Under Fire, Young Guns, Extreme Justice and Che. 

The King and I plays at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne until August 31 and will transfer to Sydney Opera House Joan Sutherland Theatre in September.

Visit www.thekingandimusical.com.au for more info. 

Erin James

Erin James is AussieTheatre.com's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

2 thoughts on “Lou Diamond Phillips to replace Jason Scott Lee in The King and I, Melbourne

  • Can you imagine completing the movie ‘Dragon, The Bruce Lee Story’ only to be shelved by ‘The King and I’ ….. that’s kind of ironic!

  • My favorite Lou Diamond Phillips movie was The Big Hit the film was about the bad guys
    And even about Chinese and African are living in Australia right now. And I enjoy watching it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *