The King and I: Rodgers & Hammerstein's Musical Masterpiece
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The last date listed for The King and I was Sunday May 10, 2009 / 2:30pm.
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics and book by Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on the book Ann and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon
Palo Alto players will be transporting audiences to 1862 Siam when they present Rodgers and Hammerstein’s gem The King and I at the Lucie Stern Theater in Palo Alto. This cherished classic will sweep audiences away with its memorable music, delightful cast and exotic setting.
As the young widow Anna Leonowens arrives in 1862 Siam to tutor the King’s children, she encounters a world she’s never seen before, an exotic land of grand beauty and rigid traditions. As the King looks to determine how to bring his country into a new era, both he and Anna begin to see beyond traditions and preconceptions into what makes people special and what makes a man a true king. Boasting a heartfelt and timeless tale and some of Broadway’s most well known songs like “Getting to Know You”, “Shall We Dance?”, “I Whistle A Happy Tune”, and “Hello, Young Lovers”, The King and I is sure to delight the entire family.
The King and I has been striking a chord and amazing audiences for years. The play was first produced in 1951 and has seen many famous reincarnations both on stage and on screen. It has won Tony Awards for “Best Play” and “Best Revival” and has seen many of its leads win Tony Awards for portraying the now classic characters.
Palo Alto Players first mounted a production of _The King and I in 1961, ten years after it opened on Broadway. According to Executive Director, Peter Bliznick, the current state of world affairs, global events and other changes since the Sixties convinced Players the time was right to revisit this musical masterpiece. “Watching the principal character of Anna impose Western style and values on what are perceived to be the less enlightened and less educated people of Siam may prove to be a bit of an eye opener for today’s audiences,” believes Bliznick. Themes of colonialism, gender politics, tradition vs. change are all there in The King and I “but in an extremely tuneful, family-friendly way,” muses Bliznick. Despite the fact that Thailand holds the distinction of being a Southeastern Asian country never to have been colonized by a European power, it should be no shock to learn that many Thais were outraged by the musical’s portrayal of their revered king from the 19th Century. _The King and I was banned in Thailand for historical inaccuracies. Time has shown, however, that none of this has diminished what many others consider to be Rodgers and Hammersteins’ finest work.
Bill Olson, who will be directing the large and talented cast of all ages forThe King and I, is returning to direct for the second time this season after having directed and appeared in Greater Tuna. Audiences may also remember Mr. Olson from his appearances onstage with Palo Alto Players in Private Lives and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged). Matthew Mattei also marks his return to Palo Alto Players as Musical Director after having previously worked on a number of Palo Alto Players musicals including: __Jekyll and Hyde, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Zombie Prom, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Urinetown. __ Jeanne Batacan-Harper marks her Palo Alto Players debut as choreographer.