The King and I
Directed by Bartlett Sher
Produced by London Theatre Company , GWB Entertainment , BookMyShow , Tokyu Theatre Orb , Tulchin / Bartner Productions , David Lazar , KHAM Inc , Lincoln Center Theater , Trafalgar Entertainment
The King and I comes to the London Palladium as director Bartlett Sher brings his Lincoln Center Theater production direct from Broadway. The show stars Kelli O'Hara as Anna and Ken Watanabe as the King, both reprising their roles from the 2015 New York run.
Based on the Margaret Landon novel Anna and the King of Siam, Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote the musical for Broadway in 1951. It tells the story of a British teacher, Ana, who is hired by the King of Siam as he tried to modernise his country, but the pair’s relationship is marred by conflict throughout the musical. It features the well-known numbers “Something Wonderful”, “I Whistle a Happy Tune”, “I Have Dreamed” and “Shall We Dance?”.
It opened at the St James Theatre and was expected to be a hit, which worried the writing duo. However, their worries were put to rest when Yul Brynner, who played the King, put in a show-stealing performance and Gertrude Lawrence, who originated the role of Anna, overcame illness to put in an outstanding performance.
The original London production opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in October 1953, and ran for 946 performances. The cast featured Muriel Smith, Herbert Lom, and Valerie Hobson, for whom it was her last stage role.
The show has run at the London Palladium twice before. Brynner reprised the role for a run at the theatre in 1979, for which is co-star Virginia McKenna starred as Anna and won an Olivier Award. It returned in March of 2000, directed by Christopher Renshaw. Elaine Paige starred with Jason Scott Lee, and the show was nominated for the Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical.
Bartlett Sher’s production will star six-time tony Award nominee Kelli O’Hara as Anna, and Ken Watanabe, who made his Broadway debut in the production, as the King. It will run at the London Palladium from June 2018.