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The King and I

East versus West makes for a dramatic, richly textured and ultimately uplifting tale of enormous fascination.

  • Full Length Musical
  • Drama, Comedy

  • Time Period: 19th Century
  • Target Audience: Appropriate for all audiences
  • Set Requirements: Unit Set/Multiple Settings

  • Performance Group:
  • Community Theatre, High School/Secondary, Professional Theatre, College Theatre / Student, Church / Religious Groups

  • Accolades:
  • Winner! 3 Outer Critics Circle Awards including Best Musical Revival (1952)
    Winner! 3 Outer Critics Circle Awards including Best Musical Revival (1996)
    Winner! 4 Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical Revival (1996)
    Winner! 4 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical (1996)
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, as 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, Sir Edward Ramsay, is one 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 he 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 Eurpean 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 this hand, he is ready to lash punishment across her back when Anna intervenes. Defiantly she tells him that his regression to savagery and barbarianism undermines all tat 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 and that she can no longer remain in Siam. Her belongings are packed and placed abroad 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 the children sink to the floor in a low curtsy and bow, in final obeisance to the dead King, and with a respect for the new one.


"Has heart, drama, comedy... sets a new high standard for the musical stage."

New York Daily Mirror

"THE KING AND I is perfect."

Liz Smith

"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

"The star of this production remains the show itself. It grows more impressive with each viewing."

New York Daily News
Premiere Production: In 1951 The King and I opened at the St. James Theatre, New York.
  • Casting: 6M, 3F
  • Casting Attributes: Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle), Roles for Multicultural Casting, Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle), Roles for Children
  • Casting Notes: The King and I takes place in Siam during the early 1860s, and the roles should be cast accordingly
  • Chorus Size: Large

  • The King and I is inspired by the novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon and is based on the lives of real people. The story takes place in Siam during the early 1860s in and around the Royal Palace. Many of the characters are Siamese or from surrounding countries and of Asian heritage. The actors should be cast accordingly. The use of make-up or prosthetics to alter an actor’s ethnicity is prohibited.

  • Name Price
    Perusal Material Shipped immediately. This is optional. Order Now

    1 x Lib/Vocal Book
    1 x Piano Vocal Score

    Pre-Production Pack Shipped upon receipt of a signed License Agreement and full payment of all invoices. This is optional.

    1 x Lib-Vocal Book
    1 x Piano Vocal Score

    Rehearsal Material Shipped a minimum of 3 months before the last performance. This must be hired as a condition of the License to produce this show.

    20 x Libretto/Vocal Books
    2 x Piano Vocal Score

    $550.00 +$135.00/pm
    Orchestral Material Shipped a minimum of 1 month before the last performance. This is optional.

    1 x Piano Conductor Score
    1 x Flute I
    1 x Flute II (Double Piccolo)
    1 x Oboe (Optional Doubling English Horn)
    1 x Clarinet I-II
    1 x Clarinet III (Doubling Bass Clarinet)
    1 x Bassoon
    1 x Horn I-II
    1 x Horn III
    1 x Trumpet I-II
    1 x Trumpet III
    1 x Trombone I
    1 x Trombone
    1 x Tuba
    2 x Percussion (timp trap set, timp, bells, gong, triangle, xylo, temple blocks, oriental drum, finger cymbal, wood block, ratchet, slap stick)
    1 x Harp
    1 x Violin A (Divisi) *
    1 x Violin B (Divisi) *
    1 x Violin C *
    1 x Viola (Divisi) *
    1 x Cello *
    1 x Bass *

    * 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.

    $350.00 +$135.00/pm
    Two Piano Arrangement Shipped upon receipt of a signed License Agreement and full payment of all invoices. This is optional.

    1 x Two Piano Arrangement ACT 1
    1 x Two Piano Arrangement ACT 2

    $50.00 +$50.00/pm
    Lib/Vocal Book 10 Pack Shipped with (or after) Rehearsal Material. This is optional.

    10 x Libretto/Vocal Books

    $50.00 +$50.00/pm