Another great show at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia.
This time it was the classic “The King and I”. I was vaguely familiar with the story, and I certainly recognized the song “Getting to Know You.”
After the play, I went to Wikipedia to read a bit more about the play and found out that it is based on a true story.
The King and I is the fifth musical by the team of composer Richard Rodgers and dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II. 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 (now known as Thailand) in the early 1860s. The musical’s plot relates the experiences of Anna, a British schoolteacher 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.
There’s a good deal of reference to President Lincoln, since the play was set in that time period. It made me wonder how news traveled back then, and how long it took to get news from one side of the world to the other. It’s something we take for granted today. I came away impressed that the King of Siam was interested in learning how to be an effective leader by knowing as much as he could about the President of the United States.
It was also interesting to realize that many of the issues that people had to deal with 150 years ago are still with us today, such as international aggression, women’s rights, and how hard it is to accept that the world is changing. It’s no wonder that the play has stood the test of time.
So thank you once again to all the performers and those behind the scenes for providing the audience with a wonderful night of entertainment.
Here’s an interesting clip of the rehearsal of “Getting to Know You”.