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BWW Flashback: Getting to Know the Many Versions of THE KING AND I

The beloved musical is soon being adapted for the big screen again by Paramount.

As BroadwayWorld reported last week, Paramount Pictures will remake Rodgers & Hammerstein's classic musical, The King and I, with the intention to "reimagine this classic story with a contemporary perspective that explores diversity and the contrasting worldviews of the characters by drawing from real history and the musical."

Set in 1860s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist King, in an imperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children.

Since the musical premiered on Broadway in 1951, it has enjoyed multiple iterations, including several revivals in New York and London, as well as a beloved Golden Age film, and other interpretations. We're recapping them below!


The King and I ran for 1246 performances at the St. James Theatre. Starring Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence, the musical was a smash hit, winning five Tony Awards- two of which for its leading actors.


The original 1956 film was directed by Walter Lang and starred Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner, and was a critical and commercial success. It was nominated for 9 Oscars, winning 5, including Best Actor for Brynner.


The first Broadway revival of The King and I opened in 1977, again starring Brynner, this time alongside Constance Towers as Anna.


Brynner returned to Broadway in the role again in 1985, starring alongside Mary Beth Peil. For this appearance, he won a Special Tony Award honoring his 4,525 performances in the musical, both on Broadway an around the world.


Anna and the King came back to Broadway in 1996 with a fresh cast- Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy, who won a Tony Award for her performance.


An animated film adaptation was released in 1999. It includes some of the music from the Rodgers and Hammerstein version (and features Christiane Noll as Anna's singing voice), but is otherwise a vastly different version of the classic story.


The most recent Broadway revival of The King and I opened in 2015 and starred Ken Watanabe and Kelli O'Hara, who won a Tony Award for her performance. In 2018 they reprised their roles at the London Palladium, where the show was recorded and released in theatres.


Recap on all things The King and I with the help of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization:


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