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10th-15th March 2008

the King and I


Show handbillMusic by RICHARD RODGERS
Books & Lyrics by OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II
Based on the novel '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)

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?".

A musical play in two acts by Oscar Hammerstein II based on the novel 'Anne and the King of Siam' by Margaret Landon. Music by Richard Rodgers. Opened at the St. James Theatre, New York, 29 March 1951 with Gertrude Lawrence (Anna), Yul Brynner (The King), Dorothy Sarnoff (Lady Thiang) and Doretta Morrow (Tuptim). Opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, 8 October 1953 with Valerie Hobson, Herbert Lom, Muriel Smith and Doreen Duke. A film version was produced by Twentieth Century-Fox in 1956 with Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, Rita Moreno and Terry Saunders.

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Song List

Act One

1. OVERTURE
2. OPENING ACT I (Arrival at Bangkok)
3. I WHISTLE A HAPPY TUNE - Anna, Louis
4. INCIDENTAL FOR DIALOGUE (Entrance of Kralahome)
5. EXIT: I WHISTLE A HAPPY TUNE
6. VIGNETTES AND DANCE
7. MY LORD AND MASTER - Tuptim
8. INCIDENTAL FOR DIALOGUE
9. HELLO, YOUNG LOVERS - Anna
10. ENCORE: HELLO, YOUNG LOVERS
11. THE MARCH OF SIAMESE CHILDREN
12. POSTLUDE TO THE MARCH OF SIAMESE CHILDREN
13. SCENE BEFORE CURTAIN (Priests and Children)
14. A PUZZLEMENT - King
15. SCHOOL-ROOM SCENE - Children and Wives
16. GETTING TO KNOW YOU - Anna, Wives & Children
17. INCIDENTAL (King)
18. WE KISS IN A SHADOW (Tuptim and Lun Tha)
19. REPRISE: A PUZZLEMENT (Prince and Louis)
20. SHALL I TELL YOU WHAT I THINK OF YOU? - Anna
21. SOMETHING WONDERFUL - Lady Thiang
22. CHANGE OF SCENE (Pantomime)
23. REPRISE: SOMETHING WONDERFUL - Lady Thiang
24. CHANGE OF SCENE (Postlude to "Something Wonderful")
25. SCENE (Anna and King planning party)
26. FIREWORKS
27. FINALE ACT I - Company

 

Act Two

1. ENTR'ACTE
2. OPENING ACT II
3. WESTERN PEOPLE FUNNY - Lady Thiang and Wives
4. EXIT OF WIVES
5. DANCE OF ANNA AND SIR EDWARD
6. EXIT OF ANNA, KING AND SIR EDWARD
7. INCIDENTAL "WE KISS IN A SHADOW"
8. I HAVE DREAMED - Lun Tha, Tuptim
9. REPRISE: "HELLO, YOUNG LOVERS" - Anna
10. THE SMALL HOUSE OF UNCLE THOMAS (Ballet)
11. POSTLUDE OF BALLET
12. INCIDENTAL (Change of Scene)
13. SONG OF THE KING - King
14. SHALL WE DANCE? - Anna, King
15. MELOS: MY LORD AND MASTER
16. PROCESSIONAL
17. REPRISE: SOMETHING WONDERFUL (Letter Reading)
18. POLKA DOLOROSO
19. REPRISE: I WHISTLE A HAPPY TUNE - Anna
20. FINALE ULTIMO
21. EXIT MUSIC


Synopsis

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.

The dinner is a great success; Tuptim's entertainment, a ballet entitled The Small House of Uncle Thomas (an outstanding feature of the score) will be her last act in Siam because Lun Tha has arranged an escape immediately afterwards, so they will be together for ever (I Have Dreamed). The 'subversive' message of the ballet's story worries the King momentarily, but Sir Edward's compliments and generous endorsement of his regime give the King great satisfaction.

The plan has worked. The King and Anna, alone, congratulate each other and in the mood of celebration he asks her to teach him the polka (Shall We Dance?) As they dance, we see how the growing friendship is rapidly ripening into sexual attraction, but the mood is shattered when news comes that Lun Tha and Tuptim have been caught escaping. The secret police kill him, and the King, suddenly no longer a Westernised monarch, prepares to punish Tuptim with the whip. Anna upbraids him for this regression to barbarism, which has spoiled everything he has been striving to achieve. His arm falls, the whip drops, but he realises that his absolute power has evaporated and he flees the room, a broken man.

Anna realises that she has so humiliated the King that she must leave Siam, but she is stopped from embarking by a note from him - he expresses his gratitude for all she has done, but says he is dying. Shocked, she returns to the Palace and finds him on his deathbed surrounded by wives and children, who now beg Anna not to leave them. She is deeply moved and realises how much she loves them and how much they need her. The dying King commands her to take notes from his eldest son, Prince Chulalongkorn, who will be the new King. The Prince, who has learned his lessons well from Anna, announces that there will no more bowing and scraping before him, but as his father dies and all present prostrate themselves, their obeisance is not only to the dead King but to the new one.


Anna and the King (20th Century Fox)Trivia

There have been many (non-musical) film versions of this story, the most recent being the 20th Century Fox version, "Anna and the King", in 1999. Starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat it was filmed on Langkawi Island, Malaysia (the significance of which is written below). The part of Anna's son, Louis Leonowens, was played by Tom Felton, later to star as Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films.

The King and I (Warner Brothers)In the same year Warner Brothers produced an animated feature, "The King and I" based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about the King of Siam and the English tutor to his children.

Cautionary note: As a direct consequence of the popularity of this perhaps partially fictional story, Anna Loenowens is known throughout the world as the governess in the Court of Siam (now known as Thailand). Many people believed that they were watching a truely accurate account, not only regarding the antics of the king but also the importance of Anna in the court.

The film, starring Yul Brynner, so insulted the Thai people, that it was banned from being shown in Thailand on grounds of historical and cultural distortions.

The remake "Anna and the King" was banned from being released in Thailand in 1999. At one stage, pirated Video CD's were being sold in Thailand. One government official was reported in the newspapers as saying that the people could do what they liked in the privacy of their own home. However, the police put their foot down and threatened to prosecute not only the people that were selling the pirate CD, but also anyone that owned copies at home!