The King and I
The King and I
Music by Rodgers, Richard | Book by Oscar Hammerstein II | Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II | Based on Anna and the King by Margaret Landon | Original Choreography by Jerome Robbins
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.
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News for The King and I

"Something wonderful!" Congratulations to Catherine Zuber for winning the Olivier Award for Best Costume Design for THE KING AND I West End!  read more
Jelani Alladin and Matt Doyle reimagine “We Kiss in a Shadow” from THE KING AND I for R&H GOES POP! read more
The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization announced today it is presenting a new video series titled “R&H Goes Pop!” on the Rodgers & Hammerstein YouTube channel which can be seen here. read more

Trivia for The King and I

Did you know? In SOUTH PACIFIC, Joe Cable sings "Younger Than Springtime"" to Liat, his partner in an unexpected romance. Rodgers & Hammerstein made no fewer than three prior attempts at writing this number. The third try, ""Suddenly Lucky,"" contained the lyrics ""Suddenly lucky / Suddenly to be together, / Suddenly owning / Happiness no gold can buy."" Although cut from SOUTH PACIFIC, Richard Rodgers was able to rescue the melody for THE KING AND I, where it became the iconic song ""Getting to Know You."""
In 1985, the second revival of THE KING AND I opened at the Broadway Theatre, where it ran for 191 performances. It won Yul Brynner a special Tony Award for his 4,525th performance in the role of King. And did you know? Yul Brynner's farewell engagement as the King of Siam set a new Broadway record for advance ticket sales purchased in a single week, grossing $1,541,547.
In 1955 St. Louis Municipal Opera kicked off a six-week "Rodgers & Hammerstein"" festival featuring a symphony concert and productions of CAROUSEL, ALLEGRO, THE KING AND I, and SOUTH PACIFIC."
In 1976 a revival of THE KING AND I starring Yul Brynner opened at the Starlight Theatre in Indianapolis. Its success led to a triumphant Broadway revival the following spring.
In 1989 Rudolf Nureyev starred in a six-month national touring revival of THE KING AND I, beginning at the Syracuse, New York, Civic Center.
In 1980 Yul Brynner gave his 3,000 performance as the King during a revival of THE KING AND I at the Palladium Theatre, London.
In 1953 the second Broadway revival of OKLAHOMA! opened at City Center, where it ran for 40 performances before going on tour. It joined SOUTH PACIFIC, THE KING AND I, and ME AND JULIET, already running on Broadway, and prompted New York City Mayor Vincent R. Impelliteri to proclaim "Rodgers & Hammerstein Week."""
The birthday of singer Marni Nixon. Marni Nixon became famous as the singing voice of Deborah Kerr in Rodger & Hammerstein?s film THE KING AND I, as well as Audrey Hepburn in MY FAIR LADY and Natalie Wood in WEST SIDE STORY. Nixon finally appeared as a performer on camera while singing the part of Sister Sophia in the film THE SOUND OF MUSIC.
In 1951, the world premiere of THE KING AND I was presented at the Shubert Theatre, New Haven.
In 1983, Dorothy Rodgers and Dorothy Hammerstein hosted a party in Los Angeles for Yul Brynner on the occasion of his 4,000th performance as the King in The King and I.
In 1989 JEROME ROBBINS' BROADWAY, an anthology of the director/choreographer's musicals, opened at the Imperial Theatre NY featuring "The Small House of Uncle Thomas"" ballet from THE KING AND I. Susan Kikuchi, daughter to original cast member Yuriko, danced her mother's role of Eliza. The show also featured the Broadway premiere of the Irving Berlin song ""Mr. Monotony."""
In 1991, the movie of THE KING AND I was shown outdoors at the Hollywood Bowl on the world's largest movie screen as part of American Cinematheque's annual "Movies at the Bowl"" event. Mary Rodgers and James Hammerstein, a daughter and son of the authors, introduced the film to a crowd of 18,000."
The birthday of Julie Andrews, born in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England. International star of stage and screen, her long and cherished association with Rodgers & Hammerstein includes starring as the title character in the original TV production of CINDERELLA (1957), playing Maria in the iconic movie version of THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965), and singing the role of Anna in the studio cast recording of THE KING AND I (1992)
In 1914, Alfred Drake was born in New York City. The original Curly in OKLAHOMA! turned down an offer to create the role of the King in THE KING AND I, but for three months in 1952 he replaced Yul Brynner in that part on Broadway.
In 1953, Valerie Hobson and Herbert Lom starred in the London premiere of THE KING AND I, which opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and ran for 926 performances.
In 1918, dance legend Jerome Robbins was born in New York City. His Broadway credits included THE KING AND I and CALL ME MADAM.
In 1954 THE KING AND I closed on Broadway after 1,246 performances.
In 1954 the national tour of THE KING AND I (starring Patricia Morison) began at the Community Theatre, Hershey, Pennsylvania, and tours for 42 weeks, visiting 30 cities before closing at the Shubert Theatre, Philadelphia, on December 17, 1955.
In 1957 at the 29th annual Academy Awards, THE KING AND I received five Oscars, including Best Actor (Yul Brynner).
In 1954 General Foods sponsored a tribute to Rodgers & Hammerstein broadcast on multiple networks. Hosted by Mary Martin and featuring segments from OKLAHOMA!, STATE FAIR, CAROUSEL, ALLEGRO, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE KING AND I and ME AND JULIET with many members of the original casts, it also included special appearances from Jack Benny, Groucho Marx, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Ed Sullivan, and Rodgers & Hammerstein.
In 1951 THE KING AND I opened at the St. James Theatre, New York.
In 1952 at the sixth annual Tony Awards, THE KING AND I won five categories, including Best Musical of the Year.
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."
In 1978 during the smash Broadway revival of THE KING AND I, Angela Lansbury stepped in for Constance Towers in the role of Anna.
In 1996 the most recent Broadway revival of THE KING AND I opened at the Neil Simon Theatre where it ran for 780 performances and won four Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical.
The birthday of Celeste Holm, born in New York City! The original Ado Annie in OKLAHOMA!, she also starred in THE KING AND I on Broadway (replacing Gertrude Lawrence for two weeks in 1952) and played the Fairy Godmother in the 1965 television remake of CINDERELLA.
In 1977 Broadway's first revival of THE KING AND I, starring Yul Brynner and Constance Towers, opened at the Uris Theatre, New York, and ran for 695 performances.
The birthday of Bruce Kimmel, writer and composer of THE BRAIN FROM PLANET X. Kimmel has produced acclaimed Broadway cast albums, including revivals of THE KING AND I and HELLO DOLLY.
In June, 1951, Oscar Hammerstein II sent a report on the success of THE KING AND I to director John van Druten. "I have never had such enthusiastic reactions for any play with which I have been connected,"" Hammerstein wrote. ""Friends, and people I have never seen before, or heard of, come up to me and drool."""
In 1979 Yul Brynner and Virginia McKenna starred in a revival of THE KING AND I at London's Palladium Theatre, which ran until September 27, 1980.
In 1956, Twentieth Century Fox released the movie version of THE KING AND I, starring Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, and Rita Moreno.
Did you know that Hammerstein wrote "Hello, Young Lovers"" for THE KING AND I in just forty-eight hours, after a month of fruitless attempts? He also had definite ideas about the song's performance. In 1953 he suggested to Constance Carpenter, then playing Anna, that ""instead of imagining the young lovers being down at about where the horn section is...I think the lovers ought to be somewhere on the first balcony. They are all the young lovers in the world."""
In 1985, Yul Brynner gave his 4,625th and final performance as the King in THE KING AND I. At his New York curtain call Brynner was serenaded by the cast and audience with "Auld Lang Syne"" and a letter was read from President Ronald Reagan. It is estimated that in his 34 years of performing the King on the American stage, Brynner has been seen by three-and-a-half million people on Broadway and four-and-a-half million more on the road."
"Getting to Know You"" from THE KING AND I 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."" When Oscar Hammerstein II was later questioned about the verse, he admitted, ""As far as I know it is not a very ancient saying, I just said it was."""
In 1985 Variety reported that the final week of Yul Brynner's farewell engagement in THE KING AND I at the Broadway Theatre, New York, set an all-time Broadway box office record of $605,546 - the highest single-week (eight-performance) tally in Broadway history to that time.
In 1898 Gertrude Lawrence is born in London. Created the role of Anna in THE KING AND I,(1951), earning the Tony Award for her performance.

 Press for The King and I

  • Quotes
  • Articles
“Nothing has reached the same level of songwriting brilliance, political engagement, and dramatic integrity all at once.” — Jesse Green, New York Magazine, April 16, 2015

Having no delusions of grandeur, “The King and I” does not attempt to solve the problem of the East and the West. It never strays very far from the immediate needs of the people in the play while they are getting to know each other, as the key melody phrases it. But “The King and I” is a seriously intended and deeply moving experiment in human understanding. It richly deserves the affection everyone has for it.

— Brooks Atkinson, The New York Times, October 05, 1952
"THE KING AND I is the essence of musical theater, an occasion when drama, music, dance and decor combine to take the audience on an unforgettable journey." — Houston Chronicle, January 01, 1998
“It [THE KING AND I] is a fiction so well crafted and so profoundly emotional that it pulverizes arguments against appropriation and becomes a form of history itself.” — Jesse Green, New York Magazine, April 16, 2015
“More than any of the great golden-age musicals, for which Rodgers and Hammerstein forged the template with OKLAHOMA!, THE KING AND I revels in spectacle. But its most impressive achievement is how it balances epic sweep with intimate sensibility.” — Ben Brantley, The New York Times, April 16, 2015
“This score contains some of their [Rodgers & Hammerstein] lushest ballads.” — Ben Brantley, The New York Times, April 16, 2015
“What makes THE KING AND I a five-handkerchief masterpiece isn’t its quaint portrait of mores at odds, but its portrayal of the varied forms and content of love, an abiding theme of Rodgers and Hammerstein.” — Ben Brantley, The New York Times, April 16, 2015
“Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote “We Kiss in a Shadow” for the doomed lovers [Tuptim and Lun Tha], whose passionate love scenes stir Anna’s memory of her late husband in “Hello, Young Lovers.” Even within an extraordinarily rich score, these two beauties stand out as timeless ballads.” — Marilyn Stasio, Variety, April 16, 2015
"THE KING AND I is perfect." — Liz Smith, January 01, 1996
"The star of this production remains the show itself. It grows more impressive with each viewing." — New York Daily News, January 01, 1997
"Has heart, drama, comedy... sets a new high standard for the musical stage." — New York Daily Mirror, January 01, 1996
"THE KING AND I yields a motherlode of classic songs, including “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Getting To Know You,” “I Have Dreamed”and, of course, the show's signature tune, “Shall We Dance?” — F. Kathleen Foley, The Los Angeles Times, December 19, 2016
"The King and I' Has a Royal Pedigree, The Daily Progress

An interview with Bayork Lee

When the curtain rises Saturday on Ash Lawn Opera Festival’s production of “The King and I,” the commanding main character won’t be the only Broadway royalty in the house.
Baayork Lee, who played Princess Ying in the original Broadway production of the Richard Rodgers-Oscar Hammerstein II musical, is in the director’s chair, leading the second show of Ash Lawn Opera’s season.

The thrill of that first experience of Broadway magic turned a wide-eyed child into a focused student of theater — and a lifelong fan of the musical.
“This show changed my life,” Lee said. “I was 5 years old, and I made my mind up at 5 that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to dance. I wanted to be in the theater.
“I’ve come full circle — I’m directing ‘The King and I.’ It’s an honor to be here and to be giving it to a new generation.”

Layers of sentiment make the Ash Lawn experience meaningful for her. Lee is working once more with longtime friend and frequent collaborator Susan Kikuchi, who is choreographer and associate director.

Kikuchi was 7 when she first appeared in “The King and I,” and she and Lee formed a friendship while both appeared in “Flower Drum Song.” Both were spellbound by what they experienced, though Lee said that Kikuchi gravitated more toward modern dance, while Lee found her calling in musical theater.

“We have local dancers, and they are learning the original Jerome Robbins choreography” from Kikuchi, Lee said.

“Susie and I have lived ‘The King and I.’ Susan’s mother was the original lead dancer — and I watched her dance, and that was what I wanted to be. I think that because I was so focused as a child, I didn’t have any distractions, and here I am.
“I’m so lucky, because in my life in musical theater, I’ve been blessed, and I’ve just let it happen.”

Lee has been involved in many productions of the classic musical over the years, but she said one feature of Ash Lawn Opera’s version sets it apart.
“I have voices at Ash Lawn,” Lee said. “When you’re in musical theater, you don’t get voices like this.”

Lee describes the voice of Brandy Lynn Hawkins, who sings the role of Lady Thiang, as “superb” and that of Elizabeth Andrews Roberts, who sings the leading role of Anna the British governess, as “sublime.”
And of bass-baritone Seth Mease Carico, who plays the ruler of Siam, Lee said, “Keep an eye out for the King.

“The King,” Lee said with a laugh, “he’s the big surprise. He was a favorite here last season, and everyone will be surprised to see him.”
Fans who attended last year’s festival heard Carico as Leporello in “Don Giovanni” and Jeff in “Brigadoon.”

“I am excited. I’ve done so many shows, but to hear these voices — it blows me away,” Lee said. “Ash Lawn’s production is like no other.”

Carico and Roberts bring the many layers of the complicated relationship between Anna and the King to life, Lee said. A spark between the two actors is important, because the musical delves into complex issues of cultural differences in romantic relationships, gender roles and class distinctions.

Anna is a spirited Westerner, an independent woman who’s suddenly immersed in a world in which women have few rights and fewer undergarments. The King of Siam, who has multiple wives, is amazed to hear a woman speak to him as if she were an equal.

As Anna settles in to teach the King’s children and help bring more awareness of Western culture to the royal court, the schoolmarm and the monarch learn to respect each other’s points of view.
They’re immediately drawn to each other’s intellects, which, in another time and another place, might have become the bedrock of a remarkable friendship. And there’s no denying that the romantics in the audience still keep looking for a spark, a hint, a possibility that love might bloom, no matter how deeply ingrained the royal protocol and social mores that stand between them. Hello, young lovers, indeed.

“The chemistry between the two of them is important,” Lee said of Roberts and Carico. “They’ve found the man-woman relationship when it’s needed. They’ve found the king-schoolteacher relationship when it’s needed.”

So, while actors are following iconic portrayals by Gertrude Lawrence and Yul Brynner, “how do you make it your own? That’s the actor finding his inner strength,” Lee said.
Of course, there’s much more to Lee’s busy career than “The King and I.”

Fans of “A Chorus Line” may know that Lee created the role of Connie in the hit musical. They might not realize that “A Chorus Line” is what brought Lee to Charlottesville the first time.

The national tour came to the John Paul Jones Arena on Feb. 25, and Lee eventually said goodbye to the production to work on “The King and I” for Ash Lawn Opera.
And there’s yet another musical connection: Lee and conductor Jon Kalbfleisch worked together decades ago on a production of “Gypsy.”

But the magnetic pull of “The King and I” never is far away. Lee said the show has stood the test of time because “Rodgers and Hammerstein were so far ahead of their time” in terms of taking a more mature and modern look at race relations and cultural differences than had been seen in other musicals of the era. Cultural contacts during World War II had made the world a much smaller place, and Rodgers and Hammerstein reminded a popular culture that had treasured its homogeneity that other cultures had valid viewpoints of their own.

“They were so far ahead of their time with ‘South Pacific,’ ’’ Lee said. “There’s the musical genius — they don’t make songs like that anymore. It’s like an operetta.
“And it has a very important story to tell. Everybody who comes to see it gets wrapped up in that relationship.”

Musical Numbers for The King and I

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THE KING AND I is based on a 1944 novel by Margaret Landon, Anna and the King of Siam which, in turn, was adapted from the real life reminiscences of Anna Leonowens as recounted in her own books The English Governess at the Siamese Court and The Romance of the Harem.

The time is the early 1860s. The place, the royal capital city of Bangkok in the kingdom of Siam. Anna Leonowens, an attractive English widow, arrives in Bangkok with her son Louis. She has been engaged by The King of Siam to teach English and other Western ideas and philosophies to members of the royal family, including the King’s many wives and many more children. Escorted ashore by the King’s Prime Minister, The Kralahome, Anna is at first unsure that she and Louis have made the right decision by coming to Siam.

In the King’s court, attempts toward implementing Western values clash with old fashioned customs and traditions. Even as the King is proclaiming his belief in the ideals of the West, he accepts a gift from the King of Burma – a peace offering, a slave. The King admires the young girl, Tupim, not suspecting her lack of interest in him nor the fact that her true love in Lun Tha, the young Burmese who has escorted her to Bangkok.

Anna is finally presented to The King, and her doubts turn to indignant anger when it seems that His Majesty has a cavalier way of forgetting issues that do not interest him – such as Anna’s salary, her days off and the issue of a brick house that was supposed to be built for her adjacent to the Royal Palace. But, on the verge of storming out, Anna is coxed into meeting the Royal Children. She is introduced to the King’s first wife, Lady Thiang, and in turn to the King’s children. That settles it. She stays to teach.

In the classroom Anna instructs the Royal Children, the King’s wives and sometimes the King himself. They learn of a great outside world where there exists such strange and unheard wonders as snow, ice, and freedom of the individual.

When the King learns that a British diplomat, Sire Edward Ramsay, is on his way from Singapore to Bangkok ostensibly to pay his compliments to the King but also to assess the monarch’s hold on his own thrown, Anna cleverly finds a way to help the King convince Sir Edward that is a sophisticated and commanding leader. Anna suggests that the King host a dinner for Sir Edward in the European style, with his wives dressed in the latest European style, and with an entertainment provided by the quick and intelligent slave girl Tuptim.

The King is so happy with the thought of this forthcoming dinner, and recognizing the friendship that is growing between himself and the equally strong-willed “Mrs. Anna,” he now promises Anna that she will get her brick house, according to their agreement.

The dinner proves a great success, despite the discomfort and anger that arises from the King during Tuptim’s presentation of “The Small House of Uncle Thomas,” in which Harriet Beecher Stowe’s passionate denunciation of bigotry in American has been transformed into a Siamese ballet. Nevertheless, the troubled mood of the moment is quickly forgotten in the warm and encouraging endorsement of his regime that the king receives from Sir Edward.

The plan has worked. Alone in the ballroom now, congratulating each other on the evening and reliving its finest moments, Anna and the King bask in their friendship. He recalls, from earlier in the evening, the strange Occidental custom of a man dancing with his arm around a woman’s waist. The King persuades Anna to teach him the English dance and it becomes apparent, as they dance the polka, that there exists a strong attraction between them.

The mood is shattered by the startling news that Tuptim and Lun Tha have escaped together from the Royal Palace. They are discovered by the King’s secret police; Lun Tha is killed, and Tuptim is captured and returned to the palace. Outraged, his pride wounded, the King is prepared to punish her himself; his arm upraised, the whip in his hand, he is ready to lash punishment across her back when Anna intervenes. Defiantly she tells him that this regression to savagery and barbarianism undermines all that he has strived for since she came to Siam. The King realizes that Anna is right, but with that realization his power as an absolute monarch is gone also, and putting down the whip, the King flees from the room, a broken man, a confused and unsteady leader.

Anna realizes that she has humiliated the King that she can no longer remain in Siam. Her belongings are packed and placed aboard a ship. As she is about to embark, she receives a note from the King, who is dying. The note expresses his gratitude for all that she has done for him. Tearfully Anna returns to the Palace to see the King.

Lying near death, the King is surrounded by his wives and his children. When they see Anna, the children embrace her and beg her not to leave them. Anna is deeply moved and now realizes how much she loves them and how much they need her. Dying, the King directs Anna to take notes from Chululongkorn, the new King. The Prince, who has learned his lessons well from Anna, regally announces that henceforth there will be no servile bowing and scraping before him. As the King dies, Anna, the Kralahome, the wives and children sink to the floor in a low curtsey and bow, in final obeisance to the dead King, and with a respect for the new one.

Rodgers & Hammerstein's first musical play based on a true story was also the first project brought to them by a star who wanted to play the leading role. The star was Gertrude Lawrence, and her idea for a musical came from the highly popular novel, Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon which, in turn, was based on the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, a 19th century Englishwoman who became governess to the children of the King of Siam.

Coincidentally, a few years before Miss Lawrence approached Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, they had already had the idea pitched to them by their wives. Both Dorothy Rodgers and Dorothy Hammerstein had read the Landon book, but it wasn't until Rodgers and Hammerstein viewed a screening of the 1946 film version of the Landon novel that they came around. The film, starring Rex Harrison as the King and Irene Dunne as Anna, provided Rodgers and Hammerstein with the clue they were looking for: yes, the history was fascinating, and yes the exotic themes and settings were ideal for musical pageantry and spectacle; but a good musical also needs story and conflict and here—in the multiple themes of East versus West, "civilization" versus "barbarism," despotism versus democracy and man versus woman—Rodgers and Hammerstein found plenty to write about.

Casting Gertrude Lawrence as Anna was the easy part. As for the King, Noel Coward, Rex Harrison and Alfred Drake, among others, were offered the role and all, for various reasons, turned it down. It was at an open audition that a young dancer whom Mary Martin had recommended walked out onto the stage of the James Theatre, sat cross-legged on the floor and, in Richard Rodgers' words, "plunked one whacking chord on his guitar and began to howl in a strange language that no one could understand...We had our king." He was, of course, Yul Brynner.

THE KING AND I was readied for Broadway with a budget of $360,000—making it the most expensive Rodgers & Hammerstein musical to date, and one of the most lavish in Broadway history. John van Druten was the director; Jerome Robbins served as choreographer, giving his unique touch to such memorable moments as "Shall We Dance?" and the Siamese treatment of Uncle Tom's Cabin, "The Small House of Uncle Thomas." Jo Mielziner designed the sets, and Irene Sharaff the costumes. With a supporting cast that included Doretta Morrow as Tuptim, Dorothy Sarnoff as Lady Thiang, and Larry Douglas as Lun Tha, THE KING AND I began its trek to Broadway in the late winter of 1951.

The musical was greeted enthusiastically in New Haven where changes were made nevertheless. Searching for an Act I song for Anna to brighten her character, Rodgers and Hammerstein were stumped until Mary Martin, visiting from New York, reminded them of an upbeat soft-shoe discarded from SOUTH PACIFIC. A few changes in the music and a brand new lyric, and "Suddenly Lucky" was metamorphosed into "Getting To Know You."

THE KING AND I opened on Broadway on March 29, 1951, where it proceeded to run for three years, racking up 1,246 performances. It received five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and honors for both of its stars. Very quickly the allure of THE KING AND I began to spread worldwide. Valerie Hobson and Herbert Lom starred in the original London production, and the musical scored great successes in Australia, Japan, and throughout Europe—from LE ROI ET MOI in Brussels to DER KONIG UND ICH in Berlin.

In 1956 Twentieth Century Fox—which had presented the 1946 version starring Harrison and Dunne—released the motion picture version of THE KING AND I under the careful eye of studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck. "More than your eyes have ever seen," promised the posters—"More than your heart has ever known!" THE KING AND I starred Deborah Kerr as Anna (with her musical voice provided by Marni Nixon) and Yul Brynner recreating his role as The King. An immediate success, THE KING AND I became the second-highest grossing film of the year and was also critically acclaimed; nominated for nine Academy Awards, it received five, including the Best Actor Award to Brynner.

Yul Brynner's relationship to THE KING AND I is unique in the annals of theatre. Over the course of 34 years he played The King more than 4,600 times, first on stage, then on the big screen and then on television (co-starring with Samantha Eggar in the short-lived series, ANNA AND THE KING in the early '70s.) He brought THE KING AND I back to Broadway for two separate, triumphant engagements; the latter, the culmination of his farewell tour as The King, was presented in 1985, the final year of his life. At the conclusion of that run Mr. Brynner received a special Tony Award for his achievements.

Ultimately, the musical that was conceived by one star, and made a star out of another, has transcended its star vehicle status to live on as a classic in its own right with two starring roles. In addition to the legendary Gertrude Lawrence and Yul Brynner, a host of great names have played these star parts over the years. The honor roll includes, as Anna: Susan Hampshire, Angela Lansbury, Barbara Cook, Jan Clayton, Jeannette MacDonald, Betsy Palmer, Eileen Brennan, Betty White, Virginia McKenna and Florence Henderson. The King, meanwhile, has been played by, among others, Darren McGavin, Alfred Drake, Cameron Mitchell, Farley Granger, Ricardo Montalban, Pernell Roberts, Theodore Bikel, Stacey Keach, and Rudolf Nureyev.

In 1992 Philips Classics released a studio cast recording of THE KING AND I. Under the direction of John Mauceri and featuring the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the all-star recording was led by Julie Andrews (Anna) and Ben Kingsley (The King), with Lea Salonga (Tuptim), Peabo Bryson (Lun Tha), Marilyn Horne (Lady Thiang) and cameo appearances by Martin Sheen and Roger Moore.

Earlier that season, a new production of THE KING AND I starring Hayley Mills began touring Australia. The director was Christopher Renshaw, the designers were Brian Thomson for sets and Roger Kirk for costumes, and the producer was John Frost of the Gordon/Frost Organisation. Distinctive and unusual, this production caught the eye of composer Rodgers' daughter Mary, who declared it the best KING AND I she had ever seen. Within a short time the wheels were set in motion to bring this production 10,000 miles up to Broadway.

It arrived four years later, opening at the Neil Simon Theatre on April 11, 1996, starring Tony Award winner Donna Murphy as Anna and film star Lou Diamond Phillips as The King. Renshaw, Thomson and Kirk repeated their assignments, and Frost's primary co-producers were Dodger Productions. Hailed by the critics and public alike, THE KING AND I swept the triple crown of Broadway honors that spring, winning the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics' Circle Awards for Best Musical Revival; Murphy received her second Tony, and both set and costume designers won Tony Awards as well. During its second year on Broadway the leads were replaced by Faith Prince and Kevin Gray. Prince herself had been replaced by Marie Osmond (in her Broadway debut) by the time THE KING AND I closed on Broadway in February,1998; its tally of 807 performances made it the longest-running R&H revival in Broadway history.

A U.S. National Tour, starring Hayley Mills for its first year, opened in Minneapolis in April of 1997; the following year Ms. Mills was replaced, first by Marie Osmond and finally Maureen McGovern. A London version of this production, starring Elaine Paige, opened at the legendary Palladium in May of 2000, where it played for nearly two years before embarking on a U.K. National Tour into 2002.

Today, THE KING AND I still reigns, its majesty still shines. With its legacy assured, we leave the final word to Oscar Hammerstein II. In 1956 he wrote to his partner, Richard Rodgers: I am convinced that this is our best work. I have a kind of humble feeling of not knowing how we did it. It has more wisdom as well as heart than any other musical play by anybody. It will remain 'modern' long after any of our other plays.

Recommended Bibliography


Block, Geoffrey. The Richard Rodgers Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Ewen, David. Richard Rodgers. New York: Holt, 1957.

Ewen, David. With a Song in His Heart (Richard Rodgers). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963.

Fordin, Hugh. Getting To Know Him: The Biography of Oscar Hammerstein II. New York: Random House, 1977; Decapo Press, 1995.

Green, Stanley. The Rodgers and Hammerstein Story. New York: John Day, 1963; Decapo Press (Paperback), 1980.

Hammerstein II, Oscar. Lyrics. Introduction by the author, Preface by Stephen Sondheim. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard, 1985.

Landon, Margaret. Anna and the King of Siam. New York: The John Day Company, 1944.

Leonowens, Anna. The English Governess at the Siamese Court. Singapore, Oxford University Press, 1988.

Leonowens, Anna. The Romance of the Harem. Edited by Susan Moran. University Press of Virginia, 1991.

Mordden, Ethan. Rodgers & Hammerstein. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1992.

Nolan, Frederick. The Sound of Their Music. New York: Walker, 1978; Applause Books, 2002.

Rodgers, Richard. Musical Stages: An Autobiography. New York: Random House, 1975; New York: Jove Paperback, 1978; DeCapo Press, 1995; (Revised Edition, 2002).

Smith, Leslie Dow. Anna Leonowens: A Life Beyond THE KING AND I. Nova Scotia: Pottersfield, 1991.

Taylor, Deems. Some Enchanted Evenings. New York: Harper, 1953.

Awards for The King and I

Outer Critics Circle Awards

January 01, 1952 — 3 Awards including Best Musical Revival
January 01, 1996 — 3 Awards including Best Musical Revival

Drama Desk Awards

January 01, 1996 — 4 Awards including Best Musical Revival

Academy Awards

January 01, 1956 — 5 Awards for the Motion Picture of THE KING AND I:Best Actor, Yul BrynnerArt Direction (Color), Lyle R. Wheeler, John DeCuir; Set Decoration: Walter M. Scott, Paul S. FoxCostume Design, Irene SharaffMusic (Scoring of a Musical Picture), Alfred Newman, Ken DarbySound Recording, 20th Century-Fox Studio Sound Department, Carl Faulkner, Sound Director

Tony Awards

January 01, 1996 — 4 Awards for 1996 Broadway Revival of THE KING AND I:Best Revival (Musical), Dodger Productions, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, James M. Nederlander, Perseus Productions, John Frost, The Adelaide Festival Centre, The Rodgers and Hammerstein OrganizationBest Actress (Musical), Donna MurphyBest Costume Designer, Roger KirkBest Scenic Designer, Brian Thomson

Vocal Range of Characters:

Photos for The King and I

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Writers Notes for The King and I

Notes on the Original Broadway Production

These notes were culled from conversations with Gemze de Lappe, a performer in both the original Broadway cast and the 1956 20th Century Fox film version of THE KING AND I. Ms. de Lappe also assisted Jerome Robbins in mounting subsequent productions of THE KING AND I, including the original West End production in London in 1953.

THE KING: The character of the King is that of a man who is secure in his power. He is serious and intellectual and anxious to bring Western knowledge to Siam. He is not a man of anger or petulance. Because he has never known anything but absolute and unquestioned authority there is little reason for him to need to resort to bombastic behavior. This changes only as Anna begins to challenge him and he is forced to pit his vision of a civilized Siam against his own ego.  When the King is first revealed (in Act One, Scene Three) the mood surrounding him is one of serenity and decorum. The court dancers and music should provide an effect akin to classical music being played softly in the background. He sits on a dais which places him physically and spiritually above everyone else in the room. His subjects do not look directly at him. In his presence their hands are kept in praying position. The court’s behavior in front of the King is always one of utmost respect.
ANNA: Anna is in many ways a very modern woman. To her, business is business. She is confident, she understands the job she has been hired to do, and is she is willing to stand up for what she believes is correct. Her flaw is her temperament. Without this flaw she could be mistakenly perceived as merely a colonialist, which misses the point of the story.
LOUISLouis is about eight.  He has been brought up in the middle class of the Victorian era. He is polite to and respectful of those around him, but sincerely so. He should appear to be a couple of years younger than Chulalongkorn.
CHULALONGKORN: Chulalongkorn is about ten. He looks to be a couple of years older than Louis. As the Crown Prince he is given deferential treatment by the entire court. Only his father outranks him. His manner can seem rigid and his bearing militaristic as he tries to walk in his father’s footsteps, on his way to becoming the king his parents and his country need him to be.
TUPTIM: Tuptim should not show herself as a victim at the start of the play (“My Lord and Master”). She becomes a victim as the play progresses. She arrives at the Siamese court not only angry and indignant at being made a gift but consternated that she is not allowed to communicate with Lun Tha, her lover. Eventually her love for Lun Tha gets the best of her, and she reveals herself to disastrous results for both of them.
AMAZONS: These women guards should be in every scene in which the Wives appear. They are strong, strapping women whose demeanor tells us they are willing and able to protect the Wives, who have been placed in their care.
The King’s Court is made up as naturally as possible, except for the Royal Dancers in #38 “The Small House of Uncle Thomas” Ballet. These characters make up with white faces and red lips as well as darker eyebrows and eyeliner. The Court Dancers in #6. Vignettes and Dance and the Schoolroom Dancer in #16.  “Getting To Know You” are made up naturally, with a little exaggeration of the eyes.
The Royal Dancers in the Ballet do not look up or out, but keep their eyes averted down.  The exception is the expression of fear which is accompanied by an exaggerated opening of the eyes. 
Throughout the play the members of the court perform different kinds of ceremonial bows to the King and to each other. These are specified as:
[A] Prostrate (Kneeling, sitting on heels, body bent forward with forearms, palms and forehead on the floor)
[B] On One Knee
[C] Standing (Hands in prayer position, bending from the upper back)
[D] Kneeling (Sitting on heels)
[E] Kneeling High (Straight from the knees up)
When leaving the presence of the King all member of his court back away from him respectfully, leaning forward with hands in prayer position. At a certain point they may turn and exit the stage quickly.
These bows are demonstrated in the choreographic video.
#6. Vignettes and Dance
In the original production the dancers being made up in the corridor were not the same dancers who were preset in the King’s library and were dancing for him as he was revealed in act one, scene three. 
The dance being performed for the King should set a mood of dignity and intellectual sophistication. The mood of the musical underscore and the dancing should be one of soft murmurs – beautiful, gentle, lovely movement, slightly sensuous and serene.
This dance is demonstrated in the choreographic video.
#11. The March of Siamese Children
This is the introduction of the King’s Children, who enter from upstage right, one by one, bow before the King, cross down to Anna, and touch her hands to their foreheads. They then back up to take kneeling positions stage right, having been guided into place by their mothers.
1st CHILD (Girl) holding a doll in her arms, is carried on by one of the Amazons, who sets her down at the bottom of the steps. She gives the doll to the Amazon before bowing to the King. She then goes to Anna and is guided back into position by her mother. The Amazon backs off right.
2nd CHILD (Boy) is carried on by an Amazon, bows to the King, goes to Anna and is then guided back into position by his mother. The Amazon exits right.
3rd & 4th CHILDREN (Twins) walk on together holding hands, do their bows together and are guided back into position by their mother.
5th CHILD (Boy) walks on, does bow to King, is about to touch Anna’s hands, looks at his own hands, realizes they are dirty, rubs his hands on the seat of his trousers, then does his bow to Anna and is guided back into position by his mother.
6th CHILD (Girl) walks on, stares at Anna all through her bow to the King, fascinated, then  crosses down to Anna, does a normal bow to her, then makes a grab at Anna’s skirt, lifting it and looking beneath it. The Kings steps forward, angrily claps his hands, and she is shamefacedly guided back into position by her mother. 
7th CHILD (Prince Chulalongkorn) At bar 53 of the music Chulalongkorn strides on proudly, stopping at center and facing front on the 13th beat (the downbeat of bar 59.) On the 1st beat of bar 61 he comes down center, turning on the 5th beat (downbeat of bar 62) to face his father on the 9th beat (downbeat of bar 65.) On the 13th beat (downbeat of bar 67) he drops to his knees. On the 15th beat (downbeat of bar 68) he prostrates himself to his father. On the 1st beat of the next bar (downbeat of bar 69) he straightens up. On the 3rd beat (downbeat of bar 70) he stands. On the 5th beat (downbeat of bar 71) the King returns his bow. On the 9th beat (downbeat of bar 73) Chulalongkorn moves to Anna. They regard each other, and at bar 77 she slowly curtseys to him, deeply and respectfully. At bar 79 he responds with the same bow he exchanged with his father. At bar 81 he backs up and is received by Lady Thiang, who guides him to his place as the next child enters (bar 83.) All of Chulalonghorn’s moves should be made with military precision and bespeak his regal bearing. He is his father’s son.
8th CHILD (Boy) performs a straightforward bow to the King and a curtsey to Mrs. Anna.
9th CHILD (Girl) After her bows to the King and Anna she turns and starts to walk into position right. Her mother points to her and indicates that she has forgotten something and that she should turn back. Realizing her mistake, she turns to Anna, takes a red rose from the hair and offers it to Anna. Then she backs into position assisted by her mother.
10th CHILD (Princess Ying Yaowlak) enters smiling and starts to mount the dais to embrace her father. He hastily pushes her away, she bows. Going to Anna she is crestfallen, but as she retreats from Anna the King smiles at her and she smiles back at him joyously. 
11th CHILD (Boy) performs a straightforward bow to the King and a curtsey to Mrs. Anna.
12th CHILD (Smallest Boy) is carried on by an Amazon, who sets him down and exits right. The child crosses to the King, who is looking in another direction, and tugs at his penuang. Receiving the King’s attention he bows and then bows to Anna and backs into position.
On the final beat of music all Wives and Children prostrate themselves to the King and Anna.
#31. “Western People Funny”
The staging needs to be simple and believable. The comedy derives from the Wives reaction to wearing Western clothing and especially Western shoes for the first time. Western clothes are very restrictive to these women. They can’t move in them the way they are used to moving in their own clothes. They find themselves, some with one shoe off and one shoe on, having trouble sitting down and maneuvering past each other. If the actors believe in the situation the audience will accept it. The joke as Hammerstein has written it is not on the Siamese but on the Westerners who sentimentalize them. (“They think they civilize us whenever they advise us to learn to make the same mistake that they are making too.”)
#38. “The Small House of Uncle Thomas” (Ballet)
The dancers never look directly out at the audience, as they would always avert their eyes from the King.
One of the small children (but not the smallest) should portray Buddha.
The bows that the six principals take at the end of the ballet are demonstrated in the choreographic video.
[NOTE: Gemze de Lappe (the original King Simon of Legree) points out that during the rehearsals of the original production she watched Yul Brynner to help her create her own King character. Since the ballet is Tuptim’s invention she has created the character of King Simon of Legree with her anger toward the King of Siam in mind.]
#49. EXIT MUSIC (Bows at end of Show)
Corps Dancers and SingersChildren Supporting Roles (Sir Edward, Phra Alak, Captain Orton)Solo DancersPrincipal Roles
Although the encores for both “Hello, Young Lovers” and “Getting To Know You” have been retained in the piano vocal score and instrumental parts, this has been done for historical purposes only. Encores were often called for in an era when it was not unusual for a star of Gertrude Lawrence’s magnitude to provide them. This was especially the case as the songs were being introduced for the first time. However, keeping in mind that the running time of the original Broadway production was three hours and two minutes, these encores should not be included in contemporary productions of THE KING AND I unless the audience demands them.

About The King and I, The New York Times
Written By: Rodgers and Hammerstein

'Anna and the King of Siam,' being itself a biography based on an actual diary, demanded much more fidelity than would a satire, a fairy tale, or a revue. Dealing with a governess who went to the court of Siam in 1861 to teach English to the royal children, the quality of the original book was its authentic feeling, its simple statement of facts and occurrences, which were fantastic enough to need no embellishment.

Our basic problem was how far we could capture this remote reality and still give our production the lift and glow that all musical plays must have. Obviously THE KING AND I is not an example of stark realism in the theatre, or a documentary work on the Orient in the middle of the nineteenth century. We have not been slavishly literal in following the book, nor completely conscientious historically. But in spite of whatever factual compromises we have seen fit to make, we have tried very hard, within our own romantic medium, to present the King and Anna as the genuine and fascinating man and woman we believe they were.

The strength of their story lies in the violent changes they wrought in each other. Yet their life together bears unmistakable implications of deep mutual attraction$mdash;a man and woman relationship so strong and real and well founded that it seems in some ways more than a love affair, more than a marriage. The intangibility of their strange union was a challenge to us as librettist and composer. In dealing with them musically we could not write songs which said 'I love you' or even 'I love him' or ' I love her.' We were dealing with two characters who could indulge themselves only in oblique expressions of their feelings for each other, since they themselves did not realize exactly what those feelings were.

Performance Tools for The King and I

 AccompanEase: This product is a rehearsal tool that allows for unlimited teaching, training and practice of individual vocal parts or dance sequences. Contact Realtime Music Solutions for more information:, via email: [email protected], or via phone: 212-620-0774      

InstrumentalEase: This product is an orchestra enhancement instrument capable of augmenting a traditional ensemble of any size. Contact Realtime Music Solutions for more information:, via email: [email protected], or via phone:212-620-0774

Playbill VIP:

MAKE YOUR OWN PLAYBILL! Playbill VIP allows you to create your very own Playbill Program. We have provided Playbill with all of the credits, song listings, musical numbers and more so that most of the work is already done for you. Just add your productions details, photos of the cast and share it with all of your friends. Learn more:

Rental Materials for The King and I


  • THE KING AND I - Orchestration Package (28 Books/27-28 Players)
    • 1 – Piano Conductor Score
    • 1 – Flute I
    • 1 – Flute II (Doubles Piccolo)
    • 1 – Oboe (Optional Doubling English Horn)
    • 1 – Clarinet III (Doubling Bass Clarinet)
    • 1 – Bassoon
    • 1 – Horn III
    • 1 – Trumpet III
    • 1 – Trombone I
    • 1 – Trombone II
    • 1 – Tuba
    • 2 – Percussion
    • 2 – Violin A (Divisi)
    • 2 – Violin B (Divisi)
    • 1 – Violin C
    • 1 – Viola (Divisi)
    • 1 – Cello
    • 1 – Bass
    • 1 – Harp
    • 1 – Clarinet I
    • 1 – Clarinet II
    • 1 – Horn I
    • 1 – Horn II
    • 1 – Trumpet I
    • 1 – Trumpet II
  • THE KING AND I - Rehearsal Set (22 Books)
    • 20 – Libretto-Vocal
    • 2 – Piano Conductor Score
    • 1 – Digital Logo


  • THE KING AND I - Two Piano Arrangement (2 Act I, 2 Act 2)
    • 2 – Two Piano Arrangement - Act I
    • 2 – Two Piano Arrangment - Act II


  • THE KING AND I - Full Score, 1 Act I, 1 Act II
    • 1 – Full Score, Act I
    • 1 – Full Score, Act II
  • The King and I Flat Bundle
    • 1 – Flat Banners
    • 1 – Flat Facebook Tabs
    • 1 – Flat Print
    • 1 – Flat Headers
    • 1 – Flat Poster Red
    • 1 – Flat Poster Black
  • The King and I Layered Bundle
    • 1 – Layered Banners
    • 1 – Layered Poster
    • 1 – Layered Print
    • 1 – Layered Facebook Tabs
    • 1 – Layered Headers
  • Transpositions are available on demand, please email [email protected] to request a transposition.

Cast Requirements for The King and I

3 Women
2 Men
2 Boys

2 Men

Large singing-dancing ensemble consisting of Royal Dancers, Wives, Children, Priests and Amazons

Captain Orton
Louis Leonowens
Anna Leonowens
The Interpreter
The Kralahome
The King
Phra Alack
Lun Tha
Lady Thiang
Prince Chulalongkorn
Sir Edward Ramsay
Princess Ying Yaowalak
Nine Princes and Eight Princesses
Eighteen Royal Dancers
Ten Priests of Siam
Ten Royal Wives
Four Amazons

Casting Note: THE KING AND I takes place in Siam during the early 1860s, and the roles should be cast accordingly.

Set Requirements for The King and I

THE KING AND I takes place in and around the King's Palace in Bangkok, Siam during the early 1860s.

Deck of the ship Chow Phya
King's Library in the Royal Palace
Anna's Bedroom
Reception Room at Palace
Theatre Pavilion in Palace
Room in Anna's House (Dismantled)

Materials Notes

In the original Broadway pit of THE KING AND I there were 2 players on Violin A, 2 players on Violin B, 1 player on Violin C, 2 Viola players, 2 Cello players, and 1 Bass player.
Trap Set, Timpani, Bells, Gong, Triangle, Xylophone, Temple Blocks, Oriental Drum, Finger Cymbals, Wood Block, Ratchet, Slap Stick
Onstage Percussion for #38 "The Small House of Uncle Thomas (Ballet)" can be found in the Libretto-Vocal book.

Featured News

THE KING AND I West End - Olivier Award-Winning Production
"Something wonderful!" Congratulations to Catherine Zuber for winning the Olivier Award for Best Costume Design for THE KING AND I West End!  Read More
Jelani Alladin and Matt Doyle reimagine "We Kiss in a Shadow" from THE KING AND I for R&H GOES POP!
Jelani Alladin and Matt Doyle reimagine “We Kiss in a Shadow” from THE KING AND I for R&H GOES POP! Read More
The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization Presents "R&H Goes Pop!"
The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization announced today it is presenting a new video series titled “R&H Goes Pop!” on the Rodgers & Hammerstein YouTube channel which can be seen here. Read More

Media Rights


1. The Promotional Video shall be recorded and shown for the sole purposes of advertising your licensed production of the Play. For such a video, R&H allows theatres to film up to 10 minutes of total footage taken at either a performance or rehearsal (i.e.: 10 minutes of scripted moments.)

2. The Promotional Video may not include more than (i) 1 minute from any song or (ii) 3 minutes, in the aggregate, of footage of copyrighted material from the Play.

3. The Promotional Video may not include any sponsorship or underwriting without the prior consent of all R&H.

4. The Promotional Video must be submitted to R&H by sending the source video and video link to [email protected]

5. The Promotional Video must include the following: "Rights courtesy of Rodgers & Hammerstein,"

6. Upon approval by R&H of the Promotional Video, you agree not to make any alterations in the approved copyrighted material used therein and you agree to obtain the prior written approval of R&H for any other use of the Promotional Video not specifically granted herein.

7. Upon termination of the Term, you shall cease to have any rights to use the Promotional Video including, without limitation, in connection with a future production of the Play, and shall immediately remove its content from any and all websites on the Internet.

8. You may not use a commercially available recording.

9. Any additional promotional rights must be approved by R&H by contacting[email protected].


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2. Licensee agrees to include the following language at the beginning of the Video:

©Year By R&H Theatricals. This production was videotaped by special arrangement with R&H Theatricals for archival purposes only. All Rights Reserved.

WARNING: Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution or exhibition of copyrighted motion pictures, videotapes or videodiscs. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by the FBI and may constitute a felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000.00 fine.

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1. Licensee shall have the right to create the Video and to make up to one hundred (100) copies of the Video for sale at cost to its Members for internal archival, private viewing purpose at Licensee’s address and for private, home-viewing purpose by Members, and shall not be re-copied, distributed or otherwise exploited, in whole or in part, in any media now known or hereafter developed without the prior written approval of R&H. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Video shall not be (i) sold to anyone other than the Members (ii) telecast by any television station or network, including, without limitation, any local cable station or (iii) distributed, exhibited or otherwise exploited over the Internet or as part of any online auction.

2. Licensee agrees to include the following language at the beginning of the Video:

©Year By R&H Theatricals. This production was videotaped by special arrangement with R&H Theatricals for archival purposes only. All Rights Reserved. WARNING: Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution or exhibition of copyrighted motion pictures, videotapes or videodiscs. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by the FBI and may constitute a felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000.00 fine. This Video is provided to you for private, organizational and home viewing purposes only. By accepting the Video, you agree not to authorize or permit the Video to be copied, distributed, broadcast, telecast or otherwise exploited, in whole or in part, in any media now known or hereafter developed.

*You must be and licensed to present The King and I in order to license Distribution rights. Please contact customer service with any questions.
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