Theatre review: The King and I at Sunderland EmpireSure, it's old-fashioned and a bit creaky. But The King and I is also - to quote one of its utterly glorious catalogue of standards - something wonderful. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote some of the very greatest entries in the Great American Songbook for shows like Oklahoma! It has to be admitted, though, that the story, partly dulled by familiarity but also lots of clunky exposition, makes the wait between the songs a sometimes hard slog. Oscar Hammerstein's musical dramatisation of Margaret Landon's Anna and the King of Siam chronicles the experiences of a widowed Welsh English teacher who moves to Siam to the court of the King to be a tutor to some of his 77 and counting children from his multiple wives. Director Bartlett Sher treats it with reverence, while also trying to accentuate its relevance as a battle not just of the sexes but also of a clash of cultures.
READING VLOG: Reading A 1000 Page Book!!
The King and I
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A mixed-race Anglo-Indian army brat, she managed to pass as a Victorian lady long enough to be hired as a governess at the court of Siam. Her experience in the royal harem was later parlayed into literary fame and a trans-Atlantic career of teaching, writing and lecturing. Equally crucial to these reinventions was her ear for language: not simply her knowledge of Hindi, Marathi, Persian and Sanskrit but the ability to mimic a genteel English accent. In , Mongkut, the king of Siam, asked his agent in Singapore to find his children a governess. A former Buddhist monk and an accomplished scholar who had earlier allowed American missionaries access to the harem, Mongkut was seeking a woman who would teach English without trying to proselytize.