The King and I



  • The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about a VictorianEnglish governess in Siam (modern Thailand), first performed in 1951at New York's St James's Theatre. The King was played by Yul Brynner,Gertrude Lawrence played the governess, and 17 young PuertoRicans appeared as the royal children. One of the best-known tunes,'Getting to Know You', was added just before the New York openingafter Gertrude Lawrence had asked for a number that she could singwith the children. Sadly, cancer forced Lawrence to leave the productionduring its run of 1246 performances (she died in 1952). Brynner alsoplayed the King in the 1956 film with Deborah Kerr, in the 1977 and 1985 Broadway revivials, and in the 1979 London Palladium production with Virginia McKenna.

    The plot, based on Margaret Langdon's book Anna and theKing of Siam, concerns the English governess Anna Leonowens, whogoes to Siam to tutor the 67 children of the King. The King, withwhom she falls in love, comes to rely on her advice in dealing withEuropean powers but she resigns after he beats one of his concubines.As she is leaving, he falls mortally ill and they are reconciled beforehe dies. Songs from the show include 'Shall We Dance?', 'Hello, YoungLovers', and 'I Whistle A Happy Tune'.