Ken Watanabe and Kelli O’Hara in ‘The King and I.’ (Film still: YouTube/Rogers & Hammerstein)
“Something wonderful” is coming to the silver screen! Rodgers and Hammerstein’s fifth musical, The King and I, will dance its way back into movie theaters at a to-be-released date. Based on Margaret Landon’s 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam, the sweeping musical made its debut on Broadway in 1951 before enjoying a smash film adaption in 1956. That movie musical starred Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr and won five Academy Awards (including one for Brynner).
As reported in Deadline, Paramount Pictures has acquired the rights to Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I. The studio will mount a transportive retelling of the classic musical about Anna, a British schoolteacher who is hired as part of the King’s drive to modernize his country. The dynamic between the King and Anna is marked by conflict through much of the story and a fiery love: neither can admit their feelings to the other. The musical ran for nearly three years during its original run on Broadway, making it the fourth longest-running musical in history at the time, and has enjoyed numerous tours and revivals.
Recent audiences will remember the resplendent production at Lincoln Center in 2015, helmed by Bartlett Sher and starring Kelli O’Hara (who finally won her Tony Award for playing Anna!) and Ken Watanabe (earning a Tony nomination for his portrayal of the King). In that acclaimed production, Ruthie Ann Miles played Lady Thiang and earned her first Tony Award.
Marty Bowen & Wyck Godfrey’s Temple Hill will produce the upcoming film. Concord, who acquired the Rodgers & Hammerstein catalog in 2017, will also serve in a producing capacity. The team is looking to use this opportunity to create a fresh, contemporary, and historically accurate representation of this story. Viewers too excited to wait for this new adaptation can enjoy the 1956 film or enjoy any of the multiple cast recordings that feature hit songs like “Hello, Young Lovers,” “Getting to Know You,” “We Kiss in a Shadow,” and “Shall We Dance?”