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.
Rodgers and Hammerstein's other West End musicals include Carousel and Oklahoma!. Richard Rodgers' West End musical credits include, with Lorenz Hart, The Boys From Syracuse. Oscar Hammerstein's London credits include Carmen Jones.
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 the 'King of Siam' and Valerie Hobson as 'Anna Leonowens' with Muriel Smith as 'Lady Thiang'.
Directed by John Van Druten with original choreography by Jerome Robbins stage by June Graham, sets and lighting by Jo Mielziner, and costumes by Irene Sharaff.
1st West End Revival 1973
Opened 10 October 1973, Closed 25 May 1974 at the Adelphi Theatre
The original cast featured Peter Wyngarde as the 'King of Siam' and Sally Ann Howes as 'Anna Leonowens' with Moyna Cope as 'Lady Thiang'.
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 original cast featured Yul Brynner as the 'King of Siam' and Virginia McKenna as 'Anna Leonowens' with Hye-Young Choi as 'Lady Thiang'.
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.
London Revival (Sadler's Wells) 1991
Previewed 6 February 1991, Opened 12 Febriary 1991, Closed 30 March 1991 at Sadler's Wells
Returned 4 June 1991, Closed 13 July 1991 at Sadler's Wells
The cast featured Korshiro Matsumoto IX as the 'King of Siam' and Susan Hampshire as 'Anna Leonowens' with Sandra Browne as 'Lady Thiang'. David Yip took over the role of the 'King of Siam' for the return engagement in June 1991.
Directed by James Hammerstein with choreography by Yuriko.
London Revival (Royal Albert Hall) 2009
Previewed 12 June 2009, opened 13 June 2009, closed 28 June 2009 at the Royal Albert Hall
The cast featured Daniel Dae Kim as the 'King of Siam' and Maria Friedman as 'Anna Leonowens' with Jee Hyun-Lim as 'Lady Thiang'.
Directed by Jeremy Sams with designs by Robert Jones, choreography by Susan Kikuchi, lighting by Andrew Bridge and sound by Bobby Aitken.
Presented fully staged and in-the-round.
"In the canon of big Broadway musicals, The King And I is, if nothing else, the top textile show... with its 60-odd cast of royal wives, soldiers, servants, dressmakers, sailors, monks and infants, and its exotic Bangkok setting, requires miles of material, and that's without the curtains 'etcetera, etcetera, etcetera,' as the King would say. 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
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.
3rd West End Revival 2000
Previewed 18 April 2000, Opened 3 May 2000, Closed 5 January 2002 at the London Palladium
The original cast featured Jason Scott Lee as the 'King of Siam' (up to Saturday 29 July 2000) and Elaine Paige as 'Anna Leonowens' (up to Saturday 21 April 2001) with Taewon Yi Kim as 'Lady Thiang'.Paul Nagauchi took over as the 'King of Siam' from Monday 31 July 2000 through to Saturday 21 April 2001.
The cast from Tuesday 24 April 2001 featured Keo Woolford as the 'King of Siam' and Josie Lawrence as 'Anna Leonowens' with Hai-Ting Chinn as 'Lady Thiang'.
Directed by Christopher Renshaw with choregraphy by Jerome Robbins supervised by Susan Kikuchi and 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 £6million 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 is a tremendously accomplished musical actress with a marvellous voice. She's particularly good at bringing out the comedy of the situation, never more successfully than when the King keeps insisting his head is always higher than hers - until she is flat on the floor in a sea of pink frills and flounces. But there's something too solid about her. It's not an age thing - Gertie Lawrence, for whom the part was initially written, was 54 and Paige is but 52 - it's about characterisation. This Anna is a brisk, no-nonsense, nanny-knows-best figure... This production, which comes to the West End via Broadway, where it picked up several awards, is a sumptuous affair. There are lavish sets - elephants in scarlet and gold wherever you look - silk and satin costumes embroidered with gold and encrusted with jewels, and a balletic interlude in which Uncle Tom's Cabin is staged with dancing and acrobatics. It's a stunning display. But the experience, in the end, struck me as being precisely that, a ravishing display. It's rather like visiting the state rooms at Buckingham Palace: there are acres of crimson and gilt, and lots of twinkling ornaments, but underlying it all is a slightly disturbing and desperately out of date boast that West is best. Still, for the theatregoers who live in the past, aesthetically and politically, this is a show on which they can gorge themselves." The Mail on Sunday
"Christopher Renshaw's old-fashioned revival has many lavish visual attractions. It's as if a generously funded museum is offering The Rodgers and Hammerstein Experience. It doesn't boldly reinterpret a well-known musical, as Trevor Nunn did with Oklahoma! at the National. Nor is it better than the movie. But in the quality of its designs, costumes and lighting it is first rate. Brian Thomson's splendid sets conjure up a gilt-edged oriental world of saffron and sequins that sparkles and glitters like the show's backdrop of a starry night. Huge red cut-out profiles of the front of elephants line either side of the stage... The real pleasure in the cast was Taewon Yi Kim as Lady Thiang, who made an immediate impact with "Something Wonderful", bringing a force, candour and dramatic intensity, in a soaring operatic voice, that felt as if they came from within the period and the genre. Something wonderful - that was missing elsewhere." The Independent on Sunday
"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
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 the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I in London for a strictly limited five week season
This production comes to London's West End following a season at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre on Broadway where this production 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.
The cast in London features Kelli O'Hara as 'Anna Leonowens' and Tony and Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe as the 'King of Siam' along with Ruthie Ann Miles as 'Lady Thiang' - who are all reprising their roles from the New York Broadway production. In London's West End they are joined by Naoko Mori as 'Lady Thiang' at some performances, Edward Baker-Duly as 'Captain Orton' / 'Sir Edward Ramsey', Jon Chew as 'Prince Chulalongkorn', Na-Young Jeon as 'Tuptim', Dean John-Wilson as 'Lun Tha', and Takao Osawa as 'Kralahome', with 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.
Sharing the role of 'Louis Leonowens' are Jabez Cheeseman, Archie Durrant, Lewis Fernee, and Billy Marlow. The roles of the 'Royal Children' are shared by William Dao, Shiyi Guo, Anton Kartel, Aiden Li, Angelina Li, Kami Lieu, Connor Mason, Lanna Poon, Olivea Puci, Felicia Qi, Paul Sarte, Angelica Scott, Naomi Sue, Felicity Tong, Sophie Wong, Erin Woo, William Zheng, and Leona Zhuang.
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.
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."
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.
"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