Dallas Moms Blog received complimentary tickets to The King & I to provide our readers with this review.
My parents raised us right. And by that, I mean they taught us to appreciate the classics. And by that, I mean movies in black and white and even those filmed “in technicolor”.
I have hazy memories of one hot Texas summer spent in our cool family room sprawled on the couch watching musicals. We watched Carousel, The Music Man, Oklahoma, West Side Story, and more… but one that has enraptured me since is The King and I.
“East versus West makes for a dramatic, richly textured and ultimately uplifting tale of enormous fascination. 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, eventually, respect one another, in a truly unique love story. Along with the dazzling score, the incomparable Jerome Robbins ballet, ‘The Small House of Uncle Thomas’, is one of the all-time marvels of the musical stage.”
Like every great Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, there is amazing music and a story with a little of everything- conflict, humor, love, and sadness. The Dallas Summer Musical’s production does not disappoint! We thoroughly enjoyed the show and couldn’t find fault with anything! The role of Anna is played by Rachel York who reminded me of Julie Andrews (which is basically the highest compliment I can give). The King is played by Alan Ariano and he managed to convince the audience of his harshness as a king that masks his uncertainty as a leader and affection as a father. We were enchanted by Tuptim & Lun Tha whose voices are a perfect match and soar through their numbers. Most of the children are played by a number of North Texas children, who did a fantastic job as well.
A few facts about The King and I:
- In 1851, Mongkut was crowned King of Siam. In 1862, he hired English army widow Anna Leonowens to serve as governess to his 82 children. Her memoirs, novelized by Margaret Landon as “Anna and the King of Siam” served as the basis for The King and I.
- The original production of The King and I won five Tony’s, including Best Musical of the Year.
- The movie version went on to win five Oscars, including Best Actor to Yul Brynner, who originated the role on Broadway, and went on to perform the role 4,625 times. It is estimated that in his 34 years of performing the King on American stages, he was seen by over eight million people.
- “Getting to Know You” begins with the lines “It’s a very ancient saying, / But a true and honest thought, / That if you become a teacher / By your pupils you’ll be taught.” Later, Oscar Hammerstein II was asked about the lyric and he admitted that, “As far as I know it is not a very ancient saying, I just said it was.”
- Oscar Hammerstein II wrote “Hello, Young Lovers” in just 48 hours, after a month of fruitless attempts.
- In June 1951, Hammerstein sent a report on the success of the musical to director John van Druten. He wrote, “I have never had such enthusiastic reactions for any play with which I have been connected…Friends, and people I have never seen before, or heard of, come up to me and drool.”