“The King and I” premiered on March 29, 1951, at the St. James Theater on Broadway and has had many tours and revivals over the years. The latest production, by Director Bartlett Sher, is a faithful revival of the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical that is now on a national tour and opens at the Durham Performing Arts Center on Tuesday June 6th.
Set in 1860’s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of Anna Leonowens (played by Laura Michelle Kelly), an army widow and British schoolteacher hired as part of the King of Siam’s (played by Jose Llana) drive to modernize his country and teach his many children. The relationship between the King and Anna is filled with conflict driven by cultural clashes and a complicated attraction neither is willing to openly admit.
“The King & I” is known for its eye-catching sets and colorful costumes and score featuring beloved classics such as “Getting To Know You,” “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello Young Lovers,” “Shall We Dance” and “Something Wonderful.”
This is a musical with a powerful message that is still as relevant today as it was when it first opened over 65 years ago. While it does have it’s lighter moments it also takes on more serious issues addressing enslavement and the human drive for freedom as well the dynamics at play when Western civilization tries to assert its values on ancient Eastern cultures.
“The King and I” opens at DPAC Tuesday, June 6th with performances through Sunday, June 11th. For tickets visit https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/the-king-i