Shows K

THE KING AND I A musical play in two acts. Music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II based on "Anna and the King of Siam" by Margaret Landon St James Theatre, Broadway - 29 March, 1951 (1246 perfs) Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London - 8 October, 1953 (926 perfs) SYNOPSIS Set against a dazzling and exotic backdrop The King and I is the moving story of Anna, an American governess, who tries to help an Eastern king to come to terms with the modern world, but he is unable to resist the forces of ancient customs. The conflict between Eastern and Western cultures inspired this well-loved musical, which has been revived professionally many times and is always a firm favourite with the public. The score includes "I Whistle A Happy Tune", "Hello Young Lovers", "Getting To Know You", "Something Wonderful" and "Shall We Dance?". THE STORY Anna Leonowens, a young English widow, arrives with her son Louis in Bangkok, capital of the kingdom of Siam, in the early 1860's. She has been engaged by the King to teach English and Western ideas to his family of many wives and many more children. Anna tells Louis how she will bravely face the dangers before them (I Whistle a Happy Tune) - and indeed she doubts whether her decision to come was right. At Court, her Western ideas quickly conflict with oriental traditions. The King's proclaiming of his belief in Western ideals does not stop him accepting a slave girl Tuptim as a gift from the King of Burma. Tuptim is repelled by him (My Lord and Master) and loves Lun Tha who has escorted her to Bangkok. When Anna meets the King, her doubts turn to anger when she discovers he has chosen to forget his various promises concerning salary and particularly that he had promised her a brick house next to the palace. She is only prevented from leaving by meeting the King's enchanting children (The March of the Siamese Children). She decides to stay; and the royal wives are keen to hear of the differences between their two cultures, and the similarity when it comes to love and family (Hello, Young Lovers). Anna instructs the royal children, the King's wives, even sometimes the King himself (Getting to Know You). They learn of the outside world, and wonders like snow, ice, and individual freedom. The King is fascinated, yet troubled, by these ideas (A Puzzlement). Anna has meanwhile befriended Tuptim and lent her the new American novel 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' but she is worried that Tuptim and Lun Tha are meeting secretly (We Kiss in a Shadow). Anna admires the King's strengths, but his stubbornness infuriates her. Lady Thiang, the King's first wife understands this and counsels patience, for she sees how much the King and Anna need each other. For all his stubbornness, pride and occasional cruelty, Lady Thiang says, he can sometimes do Something Wonderful. The King learns that a British diplomat is on the way to Bangkok, obviously to assess the King's hold on his country. Anna cleverly suggests that a European dinner, with all the Court in Western dress, and with a suitable entertainment (which the intelligent Tuptim could devise) would give Sir Edward Ramsay an excellent impression of an enlightened and sophisticated society - and of the King, too. The King is so impressed with 'his own idea' that he rewards the strong-willed "Mrs. Anna" with a firm promise of the brick house, as in their agreement.