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Beau Adams
Beau Adams

The King And I



After the guests have departed, the king reveals that Tuptim is missing. Anna explains that Tuptim is unhappy because she is just another woman in his eyes. The King retorts that men are entitled to a plenitude of wives, although women must remain faithful. Anna explains the reality of one man loving only one woman and recalls her first dance before she teaches the King how to dance the polka, but the touching moment is shattered when the Kralahome bursts into the room with the news Tuptim has been captured. For her dishonor, the King prepares to whip her despite Anna's pleas. She declares he is indeed a barbarian. The King then crumples, puts his hand over his heart, and runs out of the room. The Kralahome blames Anna for ruining him as Tuptim is led away in tears after learning Lun Tha was found dead and dumped into the river. That causes Anna to sever all ties as a governess and declare she will leave on the next boat from Siam.




The King And I



On the night of her departure, Anna learns that the King is dying. Lady Thiang gives Anna his unfinished letter stating his deep gratitude and respect for her, despite their differences. Moments before the ship departs, he gives Anna his ring, as she has always spoken the truth to him, and persuades her and Louis to stay in Bangkok. He passes his title to Prince Chulalongkorn, who then issues a proclamation that states that all subjects will no longer bow down to him but will still respect him. The King dies, satisfied that his kingdom will be all right, and Anna lovingly presses her cheek to his hand.


The musical was written for Gertrude Lawrence, and her appearance in the film was contractually guaranteed. However, she was diagnosed with cancer while playing the role on Broadway and died during the run. Dinah Shore, a singer as well as an actress, was considered for the role of Anna in the movie. Maureen O'Hara, who had a pleasant soprano voice, was originally cast, but Richard Rodgers did not agree to the casting. It was Yul Brynner who pressed for Deborah Kerr to play the role. Marni Nixon provided Kerr's singing for the film.[6] Nixon and Kerr worked side-by-side in the recording studio for songs which combined speaking and singing. Nixon would also dub Kerr's singing the following year, for the film An Affair to Remember.


Three songs from the original stage production were recorded for, and appeared on, the film's soundtrack, but do not appear in the motion picture: "Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?", "I Have Dreamed" and "My Lord and Master".[11] "I Have Dreamed" and another song that was not used in the film, "Western People Funny", survive in the released film only as orchestral underscoring. In the film, the first half of the "Song of the King" was turned into ordinary spoken dialogue, with only some of the words sung, minus the king's opening lyrics, but it survives as it was actually written on the soundtrack album.


The King and I is the fifth musical by the team of Rodgers and Hammerstein. It is based on Margaret Landon's novel Anna and the King of Siam (1944), which is in turn derived from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. The musical's plot relates the experiences of Anna, a British schoolteacher who is hired as part of the King's drive to modernize his country. The relationship between the King and Anna is marked by conflict through much of the piece, as well as by a love to which neither can admit. The musical premiered on March 29, 1951, at Broadway's St. James Theatre. It ran for nearly three years, making it the fourth-longest-running Broadway musical in history at the time, and has had many tours and revivals.


In 1950, theatrical attorney Fanny Holtzmann was looking for a part for her client, veteran leading lady Gertrude Lawrence. Holtzmann realized that Landon's book would provide an ideal vehicle and contacted Rodgers and Hammerstein, who were initially reluctant but agreed to write the musical. The pair initially sought Rex Harrison to play the supporting part of the King, a role he had played in the 1946 film made from Landon's book, but he was unavailable. They settled on the young actor and television director Yul Brynner.


Christopher Renshaw directed major revivals on Broadway (1996), winning the Tony Award for Best Revival, and in the West End (2000). A 2015 Broadway revival won another Tony for Best Revival. Both professional and amateur revivals of The King and I continue to be staged regularly throughout the English-speaking world.


Mongkut, King of Siam, was about 57 years old in 1861. He had lived half his life as a Buddhist monk, was an able scholar, and founded a new order of Buddhism and a temple in Bangkok (paid for by his half-brother, King Nangklao). Through his decades of devotion, Mongkut acquired an ascetic lifestyle and a firm grasp of Western languages. When Nangklao died in 1850, Mongkut became king. At that time, various European countries were striving for dominance, and American traders sought greater influence in Southeast Asia. He ultimately succeeded in keeping Siam an independent nation, partly by familiarizing his heirs and harem with Western ways.[1]


Upon receiving the King's invitation, Leonowens sent her daughter, Avis, to school in England, to give Avis the social advantage of a prestigious British education, and traveled to Bangkok with her five-year-old son, Louis.[2] King Mongkut had sought a Briton to teach his children and wives after trying local missionaries, who used the opportunity to proselytize. Leonowens initially asked for $150 in Singapore currency per month. Her additional request, to live in or near the missionary community to ensure she was not deprived of Western company, aroused suspicion in Mongkut, who cautioned in a letter, "we need not have teacher of Christianity as they are abundant here".[4] King Mongkut and Leonowens came to an agreement: $100 per month and a residence near the royal palace. At a time when most transport in Bangkok was by boat, Mongkut did not wish to have to arrange for the teacher to get to work every day.[4] Leonowens and Louis temporarily lived as guests of Mongkut's prime minister, and after the first house offered was found to be unsuitable, the family moved into a brick residence (wooden structures decayed quickly in Bangkok's climate) within walking distance of the palace.[4]


In 1867, Leonowens took a six-month leave of absence to visit her daughter Avis in England, intending to deposit Louis at a school in Ireland and return to Siam with Avis.[5] However, due to unexpected delays and opportunities for further travel, Leonowens was still abroad in late 1868, when Mongkut fell ill and died. Leonowens did not return to Siam, although she continued to correspond with her former pupil, the new king Chulalongkorn.[6][7]


In 1950, British actress Gertrude Lawrence's business manager and attorney, Fanny Holtzmann, was looking for a new vehicle for her client when the 1944 Margaret Landon novel Anna and the King of Siam (a fictionalized version of Leonowens' experiences) was sent to her by Landon's agent.[8] According to Rodgers biographer Meryle Secrest, Holtzmann was worried that Lawrence's career was fading.[9] The 51-year-old actress had appeared only in plays, not in musicals, since Lady in the Dark closed in 1943.[10] Holtzmann agreed that a musical based on Anna and the King of Siam would be ideal for her client,[8] who purchased the rights to adapt the novel for the stage.[11]


The pair had to overcome the challenge of how to represent Thai speech and music. Rodgers, who had experimented with Asian music in his short-lived 1928 musical with Lorenz Hart titled Chee-chee,[22] did not wish to use actual Thai music, which American audiences might not find accessible. Instead, he gave his music an exotic flavor, using open fifths and chords in unusual keys, in ways pleasant to Western ears.[23][24] Hammerstein faced the problem of how to represent Thai speech; he and Rodgers chose to convey it by musical sounds, made by the orchestra. For the King's style of speech, Hammerstein developed an abrupt, emphatic way of talking, which was mostly free of articles, as are many East Asian languages. The forceful style reflected the King's personality and was maintained even when he sang, especially in his one solo, "A Puzzlement".[24] Many of the King's lines, including his first utterance, "Who? Who? Who?", and much of the initial scene between him and Anna, are drawn from Landon's version. Nevertheless, the King is presented more sympathetically in the musical than in the novel or the 1946 film, as the musical omits the torture and burning at the stake of Lady Tuptim and her partner.[25]


The pair discussed having an Act 1 musical scene involving Anna and the King's wives. The lyrics for that scene proved to be very difficult for Hammerstein to write. He first thought that Anna would simply tell the wives something about her past, and wrote such lyrics as "I was dazzled by the splendor/Of Calcutta and Bombay" and "The celebrities were many/And the parties very gay/(I recall a curry dinner/And a certain Major Grey)."[31] Eventually, Hammerstein decided to write about how Anna felt, a song which would not only explain her past and her motivation for traveling with her son to the court of Siam, but also serve to establish a bond with Tuptim and lay the groundwork for the conflict that devastates Anna's relationship with the King.[18][31] "Hello, Young Lovers", the resulting song, was the work of five exhausting weeks for Hammerstein. He finally sent the lyrics to Rodgers by messenger and awaited his reaction. Hammerstein considered the song his best work and was anxious to hear what Rodgers thought of it, but no comment came from Rodgers. Pride kept Hammerstein from asking. Finally, after four days, the two happened to be talking on the phone about other matters, and at the end of the conversation, Rodgers stated, very briefly, that the lyric was fine. Josh Logan, who had worked closely with Hammerstein on South Pacific, listened to the usually unflappable writer pour out his unhappy feelings. It was one of the few times that Hammerstein and Rodgers did not display a united front.[32] 041b061a72


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