Musical with music by Richard Rodgers, and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based on the novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon.
Set in 1860s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist King, in an imperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children.
Featuring one of the most glorious, beautiful and unforgettable scores ever written for the musical theatre including Whistle a Happy Tune; Getting to Know You; and Shall We Dance.
Richard Rodgers' credits include, with Lorenz Hart, The Boys From Syracuse.
Original West End Production 1953
Opened 8 October 1953, Closed 14 January 1956 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
The original cast featured Herbert Lom as 'King of Siam', Valerie Hobson as 'Anna Leonowens', Muriel Smith as 'Lady Thiang', John Harvey as 'Captain Orton', Shaym Bahudur as 'Interpreter', Martin Benson as 'The Kralahome', Jan Muzurus as 'Lun Tha', Doreen Duke as 'Tuptim', and Ronald Leigh Hunt as 'Sir Edward Ramsey'.
Directed by John van Druten, with original choreography by Jerome Robbins re-staged by June Graham, sets and lighting by Jo Mielziner, and costumes by Irene Sharaff.
The role of 'King of Siam' ws played by Herbert Lom from Thursday 8 October 1953 to Saturday 30 April 1955; and by George Pastell from Monday 2 May 1955 to Saturday 14 January 1956.
The role of 'Anna Leonowens' was played by Valerie Hobson from Thursday 8 October 1953 to Saturday 30 April 1955; and by Eve Lister from Monday 2 May 1955 to Saturday 14 January 1956.
The role of 'Lady Thiang' was played by Muriel Smith for the entire run.
This production enjoyed a run of 946 performances, making this the longest running staging of this musical in London's West End.
1st West End Revival 1973
Opened 10 October 1973, Closed 25 May 1974 at the Adelphi Theatre
The cast featured Peter Wyngarde as 'King of Siam', Sally Ann Howes as 'Anna Leonowens', Moyna Cope as 'Lady Thiang', David Browning as 'Captain Orton', Mark Johnson as 'Interpreter', David Davenport as 'The Kralahome', Valentine Palmer as 'Lun Tha', Pauline Antony as 'Tuptim', and David Killick as 'Sir Edward Ramsey'.
Directed by Roger Redfarn, with choreography by Sheila O'Neill, designs by Terry Parsons, and lighting by Barry Griffiths
2nd West End Revival 1979
Previewed 2 June 1979, Opened 12 June 1979, Closed 27 September 1980 at the London Palladium
The cast featured Yul Brynner as 'King of Siam', Virginia McKenna as 'Anna Leonowens', Hye-Young Choi as 'Lady Thiang', Nick Burnell as 'Captain Orton', Maurice Chong as 'Interpreter', John Bennett as 'The Kralahome', Marty Rhone as 'Lun Tha', June Angela as 'Tuptim', and Paul Williamson as 'Sir Edward Ramsey'.
Directed by Yuriko, with choreography by Jerome Robbins, sets by Peter Wolf, costumes by Irene Sharaff, lighting by David Hersey, and sound by Bruce Elliot.
There were no performances during the week commencing Monday 11 November 1979.
An additional performance was held on Sunday 28 October 1979 as a 'Special Charity Performance' in aid of the 'Vietnamese Boat People'.
London Revival (Sadler's Wells) 1991
Previewed 6 February 1991, Opened 12 February 1991, Closed 30 March 1991 at Sadler's Wells
Returned 4 June 1991, Closed 13 July 1991 at Sadler's Wells
The cast for the February 1991 season featured Korshiro Matsumoto IX as 'King of Siam', Susan Hampshire as 'Anna Leonowens', Sandra Browne as 'Lady Thiang', Richard Neilson as 'Captain Orton'/'Sir Edward Ramsey', Craig Deegan as 'Interpreter', Simon De Selva as 'The Kralahome', William Michaels as 'Lun Tha', and Grace Kinirons as 'Tuptim'.
The cast for the June 1991 return season featured David Yip as 'King of Siam', Susan Hampshire as 'Anna Leonowens', Sandra Browne as 'Lady Thiang', John Church as 'Captain Orton'/'Sir Edward Ramsey, Craig Deegan as 'Interpreter', Simon De Selva as 'The Kralahome', William Michaels as 'Lun Tha', and Jane Adon as 'Tuptim'.
Directed by James Hammerstein, with choreography by Yuriko, costumes by Joanthan Bixby, lighting by Nick Richings, and sound by Rick Clarke.
3rd West End Revival 2000
Previewed 18 April 2000, Opened 3 May 2000, Closed 5 January 2002 at the London Palladium
A major revival of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I in London
The original cast featured Jason Scott Lee as 'King of Siam', Elaine Paige as 'Anna Leonowens', Taewon Yi Kim as 'Lady Thiang', Richard Avery as 'Captain Orton', Miguel Diaz as 'Interpreter', Ho Yi as 'The Kralahome', Sean Ghazi as 'Lun Tha', Aura Deva as 'Tuptim', and Robin Kermode as 'Sir Edward Ramsey'.
The role of 'Anna Leonowens' was played by Elaine Paige from Tuesday 18 April 2000 to Saturday 21 April 2001; and by Josie Lawrence from Tuesday 24 April 2001 to 5 January 2002.
The role of 'King of Siam' was played by Jason Scott Lee from Tuesday 18 April 2000 to Saturday 29 July 2000; by Paul Nagauchi from Monday 31 July 2000 to Saturday 21 April 2001; and by Keo Woolford from Tuesday 24 April 2001 to 5 January 2002.
The role of 'Lady Thiang' was played by Taewon Yi Kim from Tuesday 18 April 2000 to Saturday 21 April 2001; and by Hai-Ting Chinn from Tuesday 24 April 2001 to 5 January 2002.
Note there was no performance on Monday 23 April 2001 due to cast changes (see above).
Directed by Christopher Renshaw, with choregraphy by Jerome Robbins supervised by Susan Kikuchi, musical staging by Lar Lubovitch, sets by Brian Thomson, costumes by Roger Kirk, lighting by Nigel Levings, and sound by Paul Groothuis.
"Shall we dance? Most certainly. The King and I waltzed back to the West End in triumph last night... Yul Brynner won an Oscar for his performance as the ruler of 1860s Siam in the 1956 film version. He also appeared at the London Palladium in 1979, so it was a bold man to follow in his footsteps on the same stage - but Jason Scott Lee and his fine voice was up to the challenge. And Elaine Paige as English governess Anna proves she is the queen of the British stage musical and also shows a delicate comic touch. At 52 she should be better suited to playing mothers not lovers. But she looks a lot younger than her years and is in excellent shape. The show cost L6million to stage and is money well spent. The palace sets are spectacular, the costumes dazzling and the songs a knockout too." The Daily Mirror
"If all you want to do is smile at the spectacle and sing along, then everything is just dandy. Anyone in search of depth, however, will be shortchanged. The problems start in Elaine Paige's first song, the beguiling 'I Whistle a Happy Tune'. She hits the line 'I strike a careless pose' and you realise that this woman has never struck a careless pose in her life. The smile is too fixed, the manner too patronising. It is essential that we believe in a real range of feeling in Anna, but Paige gives us a kind of pay-and-display which leaves us admiring but fatally distant... There is more calm and grace from the Lady Thiang of Taewon Yi Kim, who gives real depth to the great 'Something Wonderful'. The young lovers, too, do well, singing with passion and poise, something of a triumph when you consider that the staging of their big duet runs contrary to the emotional climax of the music they are singing. Lar Lubovitch's choreography is dignified and makes the potentially toe-curling Act Two ballet into a thing of beauty, but, elsewhere, director Christopher Renshaw's production is full of stock gestures instead of real acting." The Independent
"Elaine Paige presumably can be relied upon to put bums on seats - and there are a great many seats at the London Palladium. Otherwise, it is difficult to understand why she was cast as Anna, the British teacher engaged by the King of Siam to educate his legion of children in Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's classic musical, The King And I. Rather than a prim, upper-middle class governess, Ms Paige comes over like a blowsy music hall star who's arrived in Bangkok straight from playing Widow Twankey in panto. The 'Hawaiian-Chinese-American' (programme note) film actor Jason Scott Lee, who played Bruce Lee on screen, displays great authority as the King, although he seems a little too young and needs to work on diction which sometimes made his Siamese accent sound all Chinese to me... The children are charming and the near showstopping performance of Taewon Yi Kim, as the King's head wife, is alone worth the price of a ticket. Christopher Renshaw's traditional production, with sumptuous sets by Brian Thomson, is big and brash and occasionally breathtaking. But something wonderful, it isn't." The News of the World
The King and I in London at the Palladium previewed from 18 April 2000, opened on 3 May 2000 and closed on 5 January 2002
London Revival (Royal Albert Hall) 2009
Previewed 12 June 2009, Opened 13 June 2009, Closed 28 June 2009 at the Royal Albert Hall
A major 'in-the-round' revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I in London starring Maria Friedman and Daniel Dae Kim
The cast featured Daniel Dae Kim as 'King of Siam', Maria Friedman as 'Anna Leonowens', Jee Hyun Lim as 'Lady Thiang', Stephen Scott as 'Captain Orton', Yo Santhaveesuk as 'Interpreter', David Yip as 'The Kralahome', Ethan Le Phong as 'Lun Tha', Yanle Zhong as 'Tuptim', and Michael Simkins as 'Sir Edward Ramsey'.
Directed by Jeremy Sams, with choreography by Susan Kikuchi, designs by Robert Jones, lighting by Andrew Bridge, and sound by Bobby Aitken.
Presented fully staged and in-the-round.
"Though the story's setting is the Siamese court, a regal location suggested by the opulent Albert Hall, the main tale is built on a domestic scale less easily achieved in echoey old Kensington Gore. The playing space is shaped a bit like a gladiatorial arena and there are times when this Raymond Gubbay presentation relies on spectacle... That said, the show has some strong selling points too. In the first place there are the songs, which include some of Rodgers and Hammerstein's most memorable... And in the second there's Daniel Dae Kim as the King and Maria Friedman as Anna, the latter's wonderfully subtle vocals emerging effortlessly from her suffocating crinolines and bringing much-needed human warmth to the production." The London Metro
"Raymond Gubbay's opulent production at the Albert Hall certainly puts the fab into fabric, as well as the bang in Bangkok, courtesy of a flurry of fireworks... Indeed, the sheer scale of director Jeremy Sams's extravagant spectacle often sabotages the intimacy of the story. It's hard to suggest crackling chemistry when you're shouting across the length of a tennis court, and the acoustics and miking muffle more than they amplify. Characters look lost and sound lonely. So a patronising tale, already embarrassingly out of date, inevitably becomes even more remote and uninvolving. While this is undoubtedly the weakest of the Rodgers and Hammerstein repertoire, it's still got some meltingly lovely songs: We Kiss In A Shadow, I Have Dreamed, Something Wonderful, and an appropriately mumsy Maria Friedman charms with her warm and witty singing. Something wonderful she is, if not quite wonderful enough to fill this yawning cavern." The Mail on Sunday
"What a strangely lacklustre production Jeremy Sams' staging is. Partly, this is down to scale... To believe in the story's outcome, the audience needs to bear up-close witness to the relationship between a widowed Victorian governess and the Siamese king... In the Albert Hall's cavernous space, Sams and his cast struggle to achieve this... However affectingly Maria Friedman's Anna Leonowens soars through Shall We Dance? and Hello, Young Lovers, she is still a performer viewed through the wrong end of a telescope... Daniel Dae Kim exudes little charisma as King Mongkut, his weak voice all but disappearing in the middle register... Tuptim (Yanle Zhong) and Lun Tha (Ethan Le Phong), the star-crossed lovers, are forced to conduct a courtship across the stage's chasmic divide, their chemistry nonexistent, their ardour anodyne, their intonation shockingly poor. Alas, spectacle is also in short supply. A few fireworks, some beautiful costumes, a waterway that circles the stage perimeter, but is mystifyingly not utilised." The Sunday Times
The King and I in London at the Royal Albert Hall previewed from 12 June 2009, opened on 13 June 2009 and closed on 28 June 2009.
4th West End Revival 2018
Previewed 21 June 2018, Opened 3 July 2018, Closed 29 September 2018 at the London Palladium
The multi-award winning and critically acclaimed New York Lincoln Center Theater's revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I in London starring Kelli O'Hara
This production comes to London's West End following a season at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre on Broadway where it won four Tony Awards including for Best Revival of a Musical; Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for Kelli O'Hara; Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for Ruthie Ann Miles; and Best Costume Design of a Musical for Catherine Zuber.
Kelli O'Hara, Ken Watanabe, and Ruthie Ann Miles are all reprising their roles from the New York Broadway production in this London West End transfer.
The cast featured Ken Watanabe as 'King of Siam', Kelli O'Hara as 'Anna Leonowens', Ruthie Ann Miles as 'Lady Thiang', Naoko Mori as 'Lady Thiang' (at some performances), Edward Baker-Duly as 'Captain Orton'/'Sir Edward Ramsey', Takao Osawa as 'The Kralahome', Dean John-Wilson as 'Lun Tha', Na-Young Jeon as 'Tuptim', Yuki Abe, Miya Alexandra, Jorge Antonio, Jonathan Caguioa, Cletus Chan, Steven Hardcastle, Aiko Kato, Misa Koide, Kamm Kunaree, Arthur Lee, William Mychael Lee, Nick Len, Jasmine Leung, Nicholas Li, Ela Lisondra, Jesse Milligan, Saori Oda, Rachel Jayne Picar, Jacquie Sanchez, Alistair So, Lily Wang, and Ena Yamaguchi. Jabez Cheeseman, Archie Durrant, Lewis Fernee, and Billy Marlow shared the role of 'Louis Leonowens'.
Directed by Bartlett Sher, with choreography by Christopher Gattelli based on the original choreography by Jerome Robbins, sets by Michael Yeargan, costumes by Catherine Zuber, lighting by Donald Holder, and sound by Scott Lehrer.
Dean John-Wilson's West End theatre credits include the title role in Disney's Aladdin at the Prince Edward Theatre in 2016 and the Tim Rice and Stuart Brayson musical From Here to Eternity at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2013.
Na-Young Jeon's London stage credits include the role of 'Fantine' in Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre in 2013.
Bartlett Sher's West End theaatre credits include J.T. Rogers' play Oslo at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2017 and the David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane stage musical Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, adapted from the film by Pedro Almodóvar, at the Playhouse Theatre in 2015.
When this production opened here in July 2018, Ann Treneman in the Times hailed: "What a treat... Kelli O'Hara does not just play Anna, she owns the part. Her voice is crystal, Julie Andrews perfect, and as she sings her first song, that really rather irritating Whistle a Happy Tune, you just melt into this revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1951 musical... Book now. It's a hit... this sumptuous revival is pure escapism." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail praised how "the music is played sumptuously by a compact orchestra, and in Kelli O'Hara this imported production has a leading lady with the complete musical-theatre voice... It is hard to be as enthusiastic about Ken Watanabe as the king. Perhaps half his lyrics are inaudible... Thanks to Miss O'Hara, this is a night of old-fashioned glamour." Paul Taylor in the i newspaper wrote that "it's the most emotionally satisfying and culturally cogent account of this musical I have seen. Kelli O'Hara, with her gorgeous shimmering soprano and witty, uncloying goodness, reinvigorates The King and I. She has a fine sparring partner in the Japanese film star, Ken Watanabe." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times thought that "Bartlett Sher's blazingly beautiful revival of this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic... brings a level of nuanced intelligence to the troubling racial politics of the piece. It also features a sublime performance from Kelli O'Hara at its centre... Ken Watanabe's King is a rich study of a man wrestling with change: he can be volatile and gruff, but also vulnerable and even playful." Neil Norman in the Daily Express described how, as Anna, "Kelli O'Hara owns the role from the moment she and her young son arrive on a paddle steamer in Siam... O'Hara conveys the spirited stoicism of the Victorian gentlewoman with utter conviction. Her singing is superb... Ken Watanabe may not be the world’s greatest singer and his accent is so strong that he is not always intelligible. But his theatrical presence, timing and the depth he brings to the role are ample compensations." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph asked: "Can you love The King and I wholly and unreservedly? I don't think it's getting too absurdly politically correct to suggest that it ranks as one of the most problematic musicals of the 20th-century American canon... Yet this revival powerfully makes the case for it not only through enlisting a predominantly Asian cast but in indicating how alert the material is to the problems of superficial representation." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard commented how "Bartlett Sher's interpretation often feels respectfully sedate yet handles the collision of different cultures with sensitivity... Ken Watanabe has a thunderous charisma and wears his scowl like a badge of honour, yet has a nice air of mischief... It's Kelli O'Hara's soaring soprano that keeps the show afloat for nearly three hours, bringing a delicious freshness to oh-so-familiar numbers." Michael Billington in the Guardian highlighted that "Bartlett Sher’s much-lauded Lincoln Center production is handsomely mounted and boasts two star performances from Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe but, in addressing the musical’s dated premise, it creates further problems."
"This isn't Rodgers and Hammerstein's best musical. And the leading man can't sing for toffee. Yet Bartlett Sher's production of The King and I is a knockout. With her cut-glass vowels and visage, Kelli O'Hara owns the role of the 19th-century British governess who, hired by the bombastic ruler of Siam (the film actor Ken Watanabe) to teach his innumerable children the ways of the West, discovers her deeper task is to teach the King himself. As for Watanabe, he wields effortless presence and impeccable comic timing. Even his energetic mangling of his only solo number, A Puzzlement, seems in keeping with his conflicted character... Sit back and enjoy the lovely songs, the sumptuous staging and the strong supporting turns, especially from Na-Young Jeon as the lovelorn slave girl, Tuptim." The Sunday Times
"More than 55 years since London was first wowed by Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical with the unusual subject of a 19th century English school mistress sailing to Siam to teach the children of the King, this dazzling production shows the story still casts a powerful spell. Straight from Broadway, with the superb Kelli O'Hara and Ken Watanabe as the leads, numbers such as Hello Young Lovers and Something Wonderful tell how independent and feisty Anna and the stubborn King form a mutual respect. Their relationship is so touchingly portrayed that when they finally take to the floor for Shall We Dance, there is a cheeky wolf whistle from one of the enraptured audience. Hearts will be melted by the superb score, the adorable tiny cast members, and the uplifting message. Brilliantly played and breathtakingly staged." The Sunday Mirror
The King and I in London at the Palladium previewed from 21 June 2018, opened on 3 July 2018 and closed on 29 September 2018