Albums

The King and I (1977 Cast)

The King and I (1977 Cast)

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  1. Disc 1
  2. 1. Overture (From “The King And I”)
  3. 2. Arrival at Bangkok – I Whistle a Happy Tune (From “The King And I”)
  4. 3. My Lord and Master (From “The King And I”)
  5. 4. Hello, Young Lovers (From “The King and I”)
  6. 5. March of the Siamese Children (From “The King And I”)
  7. 6. Children Sing, Priests Chant (From “The King And I”)
  8. 7. A Puzzlement (From “The King And I”)
  9. 8. The Royal Bangkok Academy (From “The King And I”)
  10. 9. Getting to Know You (From “The King And I”)
  11. 10. So Big a World (From “The King And I”)
  12. 11. We Kiss in a Shadow (From “The King And I”)
  13. 12. A Puzzlement (Reprise) (From “The King And I”)
  14. 13. Shall I Tell You What I Think of You? (From “The King And I”)
  15. 14. Something Wonderful (From “The King And I”)
  16. 15. Finale To Act I (From “The King And I”)
  17. 16. Western People Funny (From “The King And I”)
  18. 17. Dance of Anna and Sir Edward (From “The King And I”)
  19. 18. I Have Dreamed (From “The King And I”)
  20. 19. Song of the King (From “The King And I”)
  21. 20. Shall We Dance?
  22. 21. Finale (From “The King And I”)

Synopsis

Act I The curtain rises to reveal the deck of a ship that has just arrived in the harbor of Bangkok. Anna and her young son, Louis (Alan Amick), are ready to go ashore. Louis spots the royal barge approaching, bearing the Kralahome, or Prime Minister (Michael Kermoyan). The barge’s oarsmen chant in rhythm, marking the cadence of their stroke – Arrival At Bangkok. Bewildered and more than a little afraid, Anna and Louis try to conceal their feelings by whistling – I Whistle A Happy Tune. Scene 2 takes us to the King’s library, his royal highness standing imperiously on a low dais. The beautiful Burmese girl Tuptim (June Angela) is brought in, a gift from the Prince of Burma. She is broken-hearted at being separated from the man she loves, Lun Tha (Martin Vidnovic), and deeply resentful of the King’s suspicion that she may have been sent as a spy. Told that the King, however, is pleased with her, she responds with the sardonic My Lord And Master. Anna is now received by the King; less than happy at having been confined to her rooms in the palace for over two weeks, she wishes to discuss the house she was promised in her contract. But the King does not wish to discuss it, and he leaves her in the hands of his head wife, Lady Thiang (Hye-Young Choi). The other wives quickly surround Anna, eager to know about her. She learns of Tuptim’s plight, and touched by it she wistfully recalls her love for her late husband and then expresses words of consolation and encouragement to all young lovers – Hello, Young Lovers. This was a particularly difficult song for Oscar Hammerstein to write, for the story of Anna and the King of Siam did not call for love songs of the usual kind. He struggled with both the lyrics and title through three versions; finally, after five weeks, he wrote “Hello, Young Lovers,” one of the most tender of the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, in 48 hours. The King returns, mounts the dais and announces, “The children! The children! They come for presentment to schoolteacher.” To the strains of March Of The Siamese Children the youngsters enter one by one, each advancing to the King, bowing deeply, greeting Anna and then backing off to one side and kneeling. The music gradually increases in volume and intensity, reaching its climax with the entrance of the heir to the throne, Prince Chulalongkorn (Gene Profanato), who struts in – a younger version of his father. The music diminishes, and the “presentment” concludes with the very smallest child performing her ceremony. Among the most effective but lesser-known numbers in The King And I is one that quietly but strikingly depicts the contrast between East and West. In a scene before the curtain a group of priests enter from one side of the stage, chanting a pseudo-Oriental theme, while from the opposite side come the children singing, as a counter melody, Home, Sweet Home – children sing, priests chant. (This, incidentally, is the first recording of the number.) A conversation between Prince Chulalongkorn and his father reveals that the King has begun to have some doubts about what is right and what is wrong in his thinking. He sends the Prince off and expands dramatically on his dilemma – A Puzzlement. Yul Brynner’s performance of this soliloquy is a singularly exciting experience and one of the true highlights in the history of the musical stage. In the schoolroom the youngsters are singing their school song, The Royal Bangkok Academy (another “first” on records). Then geography is taken up, and Louis pulls down a new, modern map (1862 modern, that is), placing it over the ancient one that depicts Siam as a large country. The wives and children are dismayed by the true size of their country, but they learn from Louis that England is even smaller. Mrs. Anna (as the children and wives call her) assures them that Siam is not just a little spot on the map to her now that she has met the people and is beginning to understand them – Getting To Know You. In “Musical Stages” Richard Rodgers tells us, “For the music I went back to a melody I had originally planned for Joe Cable to sing to Liat in South Pacific, but had discarded in favor of “Younger Than Springtime.” For the words, Oscar wrote a charming lyric about Anna’s pleasure in getting to know the Siamese people . . . it not only gave the act a much-needed lift, it also voiced a philosophical theme for the entire story.” The King appears, and that ends the singing and dancing. Once again the subject of Anna’s house comes up. The King will not hear of it, and Anna threatens to return to England. Amid protestations from her pupils she and Louis leave the room. The King curtly dismisses everyone else. Alone, he faces the map and gives vent to some of his confused thoughts – So Big A World. Tuptim and Lun Tha meet briefly in the empty schoolroom. Fearful of being discovered, weary of meeting surreptitiously, they sing of their unhappiness in We Kiss In A Shadow. In another scene before the curtain Louis and Prince Chulalongkorn approach from opposite sides. After mutually hostile looks, each repents; they shake hands, discuss the difficulties between their respective parents and end up singing their own version of A Puzzlement. Following yet another dispute with the King about the house, Anna retires to her bedroom and pours forth her fury in Shall I Tell You What I Think Of You? Rodgers and Hammerstein often used the soliloquy to wonderful advantage. In Oklahoma! there was Jud Fry’s “Lonely Room,” Carousel had Billy Bigelow’s unforgettable dilemma about his imminent parenthood. South Pacific included a double soliloquy between Nellie Forbush and Emile de Becque. And here, in The King And I, Anna and the King each have one. The tirade attracts Lady Thiang. She implores Mrs. Anna not to leave Siam but rather to go to the King and “advise” him about a diplomatic problem that has arisen. Anna refuses. Frustrated, Lady Thiang seeks to make her point with the moving Something Wonderful. Anna gives in. The King is expecting a visit from Sir Edward Ramsay (John Michael King), Although he intends to insult the diplomat, the King is persuaded by Anna to give him a warm, hospitable welcome instead, with an elegant reception. She also suggests that some of the wives be dressed in European fashion. The King likes the idea; they continue to plan the evening – a banquet, entertainment, a ball, The King rouses everyone in the palace and commands that for the next week the men and women of his kingdom shall work without sleep. Suddenly fireworks are seen, the roar of cannon is heard – the British are arriving! Now, with only 18 hours in which to do everything, the King leads his court in supplication for Buddha’s aid – Finale To Act I. Act II It is almost time for the reception. The wives are ill at ease in their hoopskirts and unable to move in their shoes. To Lady Thiang this dressing up represents a “puzzlement” – as it does to the other wives, who join her in Western People Funny. Sir Edward and Anna, it turns out, are old friends, and as they reminisce, they dance a waltz they had danced together many years before. It is a gently elegant little waltz – and once again this is the first time it has appeared on records – Dance Of Anna And Sir Edward. Meanwhile, Tuptim and Lun Tha have made secret plans to escape during the evening’s festivities, and in I Have Dreamed they sing of their hopes and dreams. This, like “Getting To Know You,” “Western People Funny” and “Shall We Dance?” was added to the score during the original production’s Boston tryout. The guests have left. Anna and the King are in the library talking. Learning that Tuptim is missing from the palace, Anna expresses deep concern for the girl – unreasonable concern it seems to the King, and in Song Of The King he points out that woman’s only justification for existence is to please the human male. Now it is Anna’s turn to tell the King of the vastly different relationship between men and women in the West – there “every man is like a king and every woman a queen when they love one another.” In a reminiscent mood she begins a quiet, lilting polka – Shall We Dance? The King watches her intently as she dances. Becoming aware of his gaze, she stops; he urges her to continue – to teach him. Anna looks a little uncertain but accepts the challenge. And with the King as her partner the gentle polka accelerates into a dance of joyous abandon. The two are whirling around the library when the Kralahome bursts in with the news that Tuptim has been found. She is brought in, and a stormy scene follows in which the King prepares to punish the girl and Anna fights him every inch of the way, Suddenly the king, who has taken the whip himself, drops it, gives an agonizing groan and runs out. Anna and Louis are ready to leave Siam. But Lady Thiang brings a letter from the dying King – and Anna goes to the palace. The monarch is propped up on a bed. To the strains of “Something Wonderful” in the orchestra the wives and children come into the room. They beg Mrs. Anna over and over not to go. Finally she agrees to stay, and there is general jubilation. The King quickly puts an end to that by ordering Anna to “takes notes-from-next-king.” Prince Chulalongkorn begins to assume the responsibilities of the ruler, making several proclamations, each one announced with increasing confidence. The King dies. Anna, watching the Prince with pride, glances over and sees the King dead; she goes to his side, sinks to the floor, takes his hand and kisses it. Lady Thiang, ordered by her son to show the women how to “dip, as in Europe,” goes quickly to the bed – then turns back and makes a low curtsy. And all the women and children imitate her in final obeisance to the dead king and out of respect for the new one – Finale. – Alfred Simon

Credits

Captain Orton: Larry Swansen Louis Leonowens: Alan Amick Anna Leonowens: Constance Towers The Interpreter: Jae Woo Lee The Kralahome: Michael Kermoyan The King: Yul Brynner Tuptim: June Angela Lady Thiang: Hye-Young Choi Prince Chulalongkorn: Gene Profanato Princess Ying Yaowalak: Julie Woo Lun Tha: Martin Vidnovic Sir Edward Ramsey: John Michael King Royal Dancers and Wives: Su Applegate, Jessica Chao, Lei-Lynn Doo, Dale Harimoto, Pamela Kait, Susan Kikuchi, Faye Fujisaki Mar, Sumiko Murashima, Libby Rhodes, Cecile Santos, Hope Sogawa, Mary Ann Teng, Patricia K. Thomas Princesses and Princes: Ivan Ho, Clark Huang, Annie Lam, Connie Lam, Jennifer Lam, Paul Siu, Tim Waldrip, Kevan Weber, Kym Weber, Julie Woo, Mary Woo Nurses and Amazons: Sidney Smith, Marienne Tatum, Patricia K. Thomas, Rebecca West Priests and Slaves: Kaipo Daniels, Barrett Hong, Jae Woo Lee, Ric Ornellas, Simeon Den, Chandra Tanna, Robert Vega