The King and I

A CONCORD THEATRICALS TITLE

Full Length Musical, Drama  /  3f, 4m, 2boy(s)

Music by Richard Rodgers / Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II / Based on Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon / Original Choreography by Jerome Robbins

Anna is a widow from England, and he is the King of Siam. When Anna travels to Siam to teach his many children and wives, the two find themselves in an unlikely friendship.

Photo: Paul Kolnik

The King and I
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OVERVIEW

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    3f, 4m, 2boy(s)
  • Duration
    Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Subgenre
    Adaptations (Literature), Period, Docudrama/Historic
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Appropriate for all audiences
Accolades
Accolades
  • Winner! 1952 Tony Award, Best Musical
    Nominee: 1977 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Musical
    Winner! 1985 Tony Award, Special Award
    Winner! 1996 Tony Award, Best Revival of a Musical
    Winner! 1996 Drama Desk Award, Best Musical Revival
    Winner! 2015 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Revival of a Musical or Revue
    Winner! 2015 Tony Award, Best Revival of a Musical
Description
It is 1862 in Siam when an English widow, Anna Leonowens, and her young son arrive at the Royal Palace in Bangkok, having been summoned by the King to serve as tutor to his many children and wives. The King is largely considered to be a "barbarian" by those in the West, and he seeks Anna's assistance in changing his image, if not his ways. With both keeping a firm grip on their respective traditions and values, Anna and the King grow to understand and respect one another in a truly unique love story.
History

The King and I opened on Broadway on March 29, 1951, starring Gertrude Lawrence and Yul Brynner. The show proceeded to run for three years, racking up 1,246 performances. It received five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and honors for both of its stars. Valerie Hobson and Herbert Lom starred in the original London production, and the musical scored great successes in Australia, Japan, and throughout Europe—from Le Roi Et Moi in Brussels to Der Konig Und Ich in Berlin.

In 1956, Twentieth Century Fox released the motion picture version of The King and I with Deborah Kerr as Anna (with her musical voice provided by Marni Nixon) and Yul Brynner recreating his role as The King. An immediate success, The King and I became the second-highest grossing film of the year and was also critically acclaimed; nominated for nine Academy Awards, it received five, including the Best Actor Award to Brynner.

Over the course of 34 years, Yul Brynner played The King more than 4,600 times; first on stage, then on the big screen and then on television (co-starring with Samantha Eggar in the short-lived series, Anna and the King in the early '70s). He brought The King and I back to Broadway for two separate, triumphant engagements; the latter, the culmination of his farewell tour as The King, was presented in 1985, the final year of his life. At the conclusion of that run Mr. Brynner received a special Tony Award for his achievements.

A Broadway revival opened at the Neil Simon Theatre on April 11, 1996, starring Tony Award winner Donna Murphy as Anna and film star Lou Diamond Phillips as The King. Hailed by the critics and public alike, The King and I swept the triple crown of Broadway honours that spring, winning the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics' Circle Awards for Best Musical Revival.

In 2015, Lincoln Center Theater presented a Broadway revival starring Kelli O'Hara, Ken Watanabe and Ruthie Ann Miles. Directed by Bartlett Sher, the show was a critical smash, earning nine Tony nominations and winning four, including Best Revival of a Musical.

Act I

In 1862, Welsh-born widow Anna Leonowens and her young son Louis arrive by ship in Bangkok, Siam (now known as Thailand), where she has been engaged by King Mongkut to be schoolmistress to the royal children. The crowded port and the approach of the imposing Kralahome (Prime Minister) frighten Louis (“I Whistle A Happy Tune”).

In his throne room, with his many wives in attendance, the King of Siam, welcomes Lun Tha, a Burmese scholar sent to study the design of Buddhist temples. Lun Tha presents the King with a gift: the beautiful, independent-minded young Tuptim, who speaks and reads English. She has been sent to join the King’s wives, all of whom live in the Royal Palace. Though she is promised to the King, Tuptim is in love with Lun Tha (“My Lord and Master”).

After being detained in the Palace by the Kralahome, Anna finally meets the King. She reminds him of his promise to give her a house of her own. The King denies any memory of such an agreement, frustrating the strong-willed Anna.

The King introduces Anna to his head wife, Lady Thiang, who also speaks English. Tuptim asks Anna if she has any books in English which she may read, in particular Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, a book about the evils of slavery in America. The wives are most curious about Anna’s western clothing and background. Anna talks of her son and her love for her late husband, Tom (“Hello, Young Lovers”).

The children of the King’s most favoured wives, including the heir to the throne Prince Chulalongkorn, greet Anna (“The March of the Siamese Children”) who is charmed and agrees to begin teaching them despite the King’s declaration that she must live in the Palace.

The King, troubled by the encroachment of Western imperialism on neighbouring countries, fears that Siam will be overtaken. He begins to question his traditional thinking (“A Puzzlement”).

A year later, Anna continues to teach (“The Royal Bangkok Academy”); the children and their mothers have impressed and delighted her (“Getting to Know You”). During a geography lesson, the children are reluctant to believe some of Anna’s new ideas. The King enters and vehemently defends Anna’s teachings. Anna takes the opportunity to remind the King about his promise to give her a house of her own. They quarrel, as do Louis and Chulalongkorn, and Anna decides to leave Siam.

Anna’s impending departure greatly upsets Tuptim and Lun Tha, who have been meeting furtively, with Anna as a chaperone (“We Kiss in a Shadow”). Their rendezvous is secretly observed by Lady Thiang.

While Louis packs to leave, he and Chulalongkorn muse about their lack of understanding of the adults’ behaviour (“A Puzzlement” Reprise). Later that night, Anna vents about the King’s stubbornness and the subservience he expects from his subjects (“Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?”).

Lady Thiang asks Anna to help the King; he is troubled by the approaching visit of British emissaries who view him as a barbarian. He needs Anna’s advice, but tradition and pride forbid him to ask for it. Anna is reluctant to help the King, but Lady Thiang convinces her to go (“Something Wonderful”).

The King, with Anna’s shrewdly worded help, decides to entertain the British dignitaries with a European-style dinner and dance, as well as a theatrical presentation of a play written by Tuptim, inspired by Uncle Tom’s Cabin. When the British arrive earlier than expected, the King calls upon everyone to quickly ready themselves. In a prayer to Buddha, the King resolves to give Anna the house she has long requested.

Act II

The wives prepare to wear the uncomfortable European dresses and shoes Anna has instructed them to create for the dinner and performance (“Western People Funny”).

As the dinner takes place, Tuptim sneaks away to meet Lun Tha, who reveals that he has been ordered to return to Burma immediately. They plan to run away together after Tuptim’s performance (“I Have Dreamed”).

In the theater pavilion, Tuptim and the royal dancers and singers present a Siamese version of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book (“The Small House of Uncle Thomas”). During the presentation, an emboldened Tuptim confronts the King about slavery but he quickly puts her back in her place. Afterwards, she disappears to meet Lun Tha.

Aside from the outburst from Tuptim, the King and Anna revel in the success of the evening. The British no longer view the King as a barbarian. Anna and the King begin to share their thoughts about relationships between men and women (“Song of the King”). The King expresses a curiosity in Western-style dancing and Anna and the King dance an exuberant polka together (“Shall We Dance?”).

The Kralahome interrupts with news that Tuptim has been found. She is brought in and the King prepares to whip her. Anna, begging him not to punish her this way, calls the King a barbarian. Unable to proceed, the King exits. When Lun Tha is found dead, Anna is devastated and vows to leave Siam.

Over the next few months, the King’s health begins to decline. As Anna and Louis prepare to leave, Lady Thiang brings Anna a letter from the King, who is close to death.

Anna arrives in the King’s study, where the wives, children and priests are holding vigil over the dying King. The King asks Anna to teach the children to be brave and Anna decides to stay. As the King dies, Prince Chulalonkorn proclaims a new vision for Siam, inspired by Anna’s teachings. The Kralahome, Lady Thiang and Anna kneel by the great King’s side, paying their last respects (“Finale Ultimo”).

Considerations

Performing Groups
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Church / Religious Groups
Cautions
  • No Special Cautions

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Specifics

Details

  • Time Period: 19th Century
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Additional Features: Not Applicable
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Setting:

The King's Palace in Bangkok, Siam during the early 1860s.

Specific Locations
Deck of the ship
Chow Phya King's Library in the Royal Palace
Schoolroom
Anna's Bedroom
Reception Room at Palace Theatre
Pavilion in Palace
Room in Anna's House (Dismantled)

Casting

3f, 4m, 2boy(s)
Cast Attributes
  • Role(s) for Asian Actor(s)
  • Multicultural casting
  • Roles for Children
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)
PRINCIPALS
3 Women
2 Men
2 Boys

FEATURED
2 Men

ENSEMBLE
Large singing-dancing ensemble consisting of Royal Dancers, Wives, Children, Priests and Amazons

CHARACTERS
Captain Orton
Louis Leonowens
Anna Leonowens
The Interpreter
The Kralahome
The King
Phra Alack
Lun Tha
Tuptim
Lady Thiang
Prince Chulalongkorn
Sir Edward Ramsay
Princess Ying Yaowalak
Nine Princes and Eight Princesses
Eighteen Royal Dancers
Ten Priests of Siam
Ten Royal Wives
Four Amazons
Casting Notes

The King and I takes place in Siam during the early 1860s, and the roles should be cast accordingly.

Music

  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway, Operetta
  • Dance Requirements: Moderate
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Orchestra Size: X-Large
  • Chorus Size: Large

Act I

1. Overture — Orchestra
2. Opening Act I (Arrival At Bangkok) — Orchestra
3. "I Whistle A Happy Tune" — Anna, Louis
4. Incidental For Dialogue (Entrance Of Kralahome) — Orchestra
5. Exit: I Whistle A Happy Tune — Orchestra
6. Vignettes And Dance — Orchestra
7. "My Lord And Master" — Tuptim
7a. There Is a Happy Land — Lady Thiang
8. Incidental For Dialogue — Orchestra
9. "Hello, Young Lovers" — Anna
9a. "Encore: Hello Young Lovers" — Anna
10. Gong Cue — Orchestra
11. The March Of Siamese Children — Orchestra
12. Postlude To The March Of Siamese Children — Orchestra
13. Scene Before Curtain — Priests, Children
14. "A Puzzlement" — King
15. School Room Scene — Children, Wives
16. "Getting To Know You" — Anna, Wives, and Children
17: "Encore: Getting To Know You" — Anna, Wives, and Children
18. Incidental — Orchestra
19. "We Kiss In A Shadow" — Tuptim, Lun Tha
20. "A Puzzlement (Reprise)" — Prince, Louis
21. "Shall I Tell You What I Think Of You?" — Anna
22. "Something Wonderful" — Lady Thiang
23. Change Of Scene (Pantomime) — Orchestra
24. "Something Wonderful (Reprise)" — Lady Thiang
25. Change Of Scene (Postlude To "Something Wonderful") — Orchestra
26. Scene (Anna And The King Planning Party) — Orchestra
27. Fireworks — Orchestra
28. "Finale Act I" — King, Ensemble

Act II

29. Entr'acte — Orchestra
30. Opening Act II — Orchestra
31. "Western People Funny" — Lady Thiang, Wives
32. Exit Of Wives — Orchestra
33. Dance Of Anna And Sir Edward — Orchestra
34. Exit Of Anna, King And Sir Edward — Orchestra
35. Incidental "We Kiss In A Shadow — Orchestra
36. "I Have Dreamed" — Lun Tha, Tuptim
37. "Hello, Young Lovers (Reprise)" — Anna
38. "The Small House Of Uncle Thomas (Ballet)" — Tuptim, Chorus, Dancers
39. Postlude Of Ballet — Orchestra
40. Incidental (Change Of Scene) — Orchestra
40a. Gong Cue — Orchestra
41. "Song of The King" — King, Anna
42. "Shall We Dance?" — Anna, King
43. Melos: My Lord And Master — Orchestra
44. Processional — Orchestra
45. Something Wonderful (Reprise): Letter Reading — Orchestra
46. Polka Doloroso (Shall We Dance?) — Orchestra
47. "I Whistle A Happy Tune (Reprise)" — Anna
48. "Finale Ultimo" — Orchestra
49. Bows & Exit Music — Orchestra

Full Orchestration

1 Flute I
1 Flute II (Doubles Piccolo)
1 Oboe (Optional Doubling English Horn)
1 Clarinet I
1 Clarinet II
1 Clarinet III (Doubling Bass Clarinet)
1 Bassoon
1 Trumpet I
1 Trumpet II
1 Trumpet III
1 Horn I
1 Horn II
1 Horn III
1 Trombone I
1 Trombone II
1 Tuba
2 Violin A (Divisi)
2 Violin B (Divisi)
2 Violin C
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Bass
1 Harp

2 Percussion
Trap Set
Timpani
Bells
Gong
Triangle
Xylophone
Temple Blocks
Oriental Drum
Finger Cymbals
Wood Block
Ratchet
Slap Stick

Onstage Percussion for #38 The Small House of Uncle Thomas (Ballet) can be found in the Libretto-Vocal book.

Materials

Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:
20 Libretto Vocal
1 Piano Conductor
1 Flute I
1 Flute II
1 Oboe
1 Clarinet I
1 Clarinet II
1 Clarinet III
1 Bassoon
1 Trumpet I
1 Trumpet II
1 Trumpet III
1 Horn I
1 Horn II
1 Horn III
1 Trombone I
1 Trombone II
1 Tuba
2 Percussion
2 Violin A
2 Violin B
2 Violin C
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Bass
1 Harp
1 Logo Pack

Piano Only:
20 Libretto Vocal
1 Piano Conductor
1 Logo Pack

Optional Performance Tracks:
Performance Tracks are available through Sinfonia by Real Time Music Solutions (RMS) at an additional fee. Interested licensees should reach out to RMS directly to secure Sinfonia Performance Tracks.


Additional Material:

A Full Score is available for this title for an additional fee. Please contact your licensing representative for additional information.

Media

Press

“Nothing has reached the same level of songwriting brilliance, political engagement, and dramatic integrity all at once.” — Jesse Green, New York Magazine

"The King and I is the essence of musical theater, an occasion when drama, music, dance and decor combine to take the audience on an unforgettable journey." — Houston Chronicle

"Having no delusions of grandeur, The King and I does not attempt to solve the problem of the East and the West. It never strays very far from the immediate needs of the people in the play while they are getting to know each other, as the key melody phrases it. But The King and I is a seriously intended and deeply moving experiment in human understanding. It richly deserves the affection everyone has for it." — Brooks Atkinson, The New York Times

“More than any of the great golden-age musicals, for which Rodgers and Hammerstein forged the template with Oklahoma!, The King and I revels in spectacle. But its most impressive achievement is how it balances epic sweep with intimate sensibility.” — Ben Brantley, The New York Times

"The star of this production remains the show itself. It grows more impressive with each viewing." — New York Daily News

"Has heart, drama, comedy... sets a new high standard for the musical stage." — New York Daily Mirror

"The King and I yields a motherlode of classic songs, including “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Getting To Know You,” “I Have Dreamed” and, of course, the show's signature tune, “Shall We Dance?” — F. Kathleen Foley, The Los Angeles Times

Music Samples

Videos

  • The King and I through time and history

  • The King and I - 2015 Tony Awards

  • Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr perform "Shall We Dance" from The King and I

  • The King and I - Highlights

More videos +

Photos

  • The King and I

    Credit: Paul Kolnik

  • The King and I

    Credit: Paul Kolnik

  • The King and I

    Credit: Paul Kolnik

More

Authors

Richard Rodgers

Richard Rodgers' contribution to the musical theatre of his day was extraordinary, and his influence on the musical theatre of today and tomorrow is legendary. His career spanned more than six decades, his hits ranging from the silver screens of Hollywood to the bright lights of Broadway, London and beyond. He was ...

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Oscar Hammerstein II

Oscar Hammerstein II was born on July 12, 1895 in New York City. His father, William, was a theatre manager and for many years director of Hammerstein's Victoria, the most popular vaudeville theatre of its day. His uncle, Arthur Hammerstein, was a successful Broadway producer and his grandfather, Oscar Hammerstein, ...

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Margaret Landon

Margaret Landon was born Margaret Dorothea Mortenson in Somers, Wisconsin, on September 7, 1903. She was one of three daughters of A.D. and Adelle Mortenson, devout Methodists who soon moved to Evanston, Illinois. She graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1921 and from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois ...

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Jerome Robbins

Jerome Robbins is world-renowned as a choreographer of ballets as well as a choreographer/director in the theatre, movies and on television. His Broadway shows include On the Town, Billion Dollar Baby, High Button Shoes, Peter Pan, The King and I, West Side Story, Gypsy, Funny Girl and Fiddler on the Ro ...

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