5 reasons why you should see The King and I

Posted on 5 April 2023

The King and I is more than just a musical, it is a love letter to cultural acceptance. Following its 1951 Broadway premiere and countless revivals over the years, this beloved show explores the heartfelt journey of a fearless English governess, known as Anna, as she sets sail for Siam during the 1860s, to escape her past and better her future. 

Woven from a tapestry of culture, romance and acceptance - The King and I ignites the heart and brings tears to the eyes. So, pack your bags for Siam…here are 5 reasons why you should see The King and I!

The story

The story follows a clash between two different cultures and belief systems that are worlds apart. Anna is a strong-willed British widow, who is hired by the King of Siam to introduce his family to Western customs. However, she struggles to reconcile her own beliefs with the traditions of the King's society, thus the conflict intensifies. 

Regardless, with time, a shift occurs, as Anna and the King begin to understand each other's viewpoints. Soon, they realise that their differences can actually enrich their lives and they begin to learn to appreciate each other's perspectives.

Through the lens of these ever-changing protagonists, we are given a thought-provoking narrative that presents just how transformative understanding is. Not only are we given an entertaining story, but there is a mass of potential for the narrative to inspire appreciation for diversity and cross-cultural exchange in audiences worldwide.

The timeless music

Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical genius and classical Broadway-style tunes capture a broad range of themes and emotions. Love, friendship, cultural differences, power dynamics, and self-discovery are all beautifully portrayed through the musical numbers of The King and I. Despite being incredibly catchy, the music is a blend of diverse styles that captures the essence of East and West, from traditional Thai melodies to Broadway show beats, the music reminds us of the power to bring people together, regardless of their beliefs or backgrounds!

The opening number 'I Whistle a Happy Tune' introduces us to Anna's relentless determination to remain brave and positive as she faces her fears and uncertainties. Meanwhile, the delightful and giddy 'Getting to Know You' celebrates the joy of cultural exchange and the bonds of friendship while one of the most iconic numbers of the show, 'Shall We Dance?', is a perfect representation of the growing connection and romantic tension between the King and Anna.

The cast and creatives

The current revival of The King and I is directed by Tony Award-winning director Bart Sher, known for his work on acclaimed Broadway productions such as South Pacific and My Fair Lady. The classic musical features a book and lyrics by the legendary Oscar Hammerstein II and music by Richard Rodgers

The cast includes Helen George, beloved for her role as Trixie on BBC One's Call The Midwife, in the lead role of Anna, alongside Darren Lee as The King of Siam.

The set and costume design 

The production transports you to the world of 19th-century Siam. Marvel at regal palaces, lush gardens and intricate temples. The sets are richly detailed and crafted, creating an immersive world of royal grandeur. 

The costumes of The King and I are a feast for the eyes, combining traditional Thai and Western styles. From the King's majestic golden robe to Anna's elegant Victorian dresses (with a touch of Thai influence), every costume showcases the cultural richness and diversity of Siam. 

The legacy

The King and I is a classic of musical theatre, with a legacy that has endured for over half a century. The show has been revived countless times and has inspired generations of performers and theatre-goers alike. Its themes of cultural exchange and understanding remain as relevant today as they did in 1951!

During its debut, The King and I was a critical and commercial success, winning five Tony Awards and spawning numerous adaptations and revivals over the years. Some of the most notable adaptations include a 1956 film adaptation, a 1999 animated film featuring the voices of Miranda Richardson and Christiane Noll, and a 2015 Broadway revival with Kelli O'Hara as Anna and Ken Watanabe as the king. The Broadway production won four Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical. Be a part of the legacy with its most recent UK Tour!

The King and I tickets are available now! 

Get to know one of the greatest musicals in the world! 

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By Kevin Thomas

From as early as I can recall, writing has always been my passion. Being able to combine this with my love for theatre has been a rewarding and exhilarating experience. I truly believe that there is magic in seeing a story brought to life on stage, and this is what I would like to promote to audiences.