Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday! This month, we’re celebrating the 70th anniversary of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King And I, which premiered on March 29, 1951 with the legendary Gertrude Lawrence and the soon-to-be-iconic Yul Brynner, who would go on to recreate his star-making role as the King for the 1956 film adaptation and in many productions thereafter, including the 1977 Broadway revival that also starred Constance Towers and is the subject of this entry. (They have a glorious cast album — it’s my “go-to” for this score!)
However, the audio I’m offering — for subscribers who comment below to alert me of their interest — actually features neither of those two, for it was taken in April 1978, during the stars’ vacations, when in stepped Michael Kermoyan as the King and Angela Lansbury as an above-the-title Anna. You can currently hear excerpts on YouTube, but now is your chance to grab the entire audio, which is nearly complete and will give you a full understanding of why the New York Times favorably cited Lansbury’s “impetuous and headstrong” take on the role and advocated for pairing her with Brynner. (Incidentally, this good press didn’t translate to the box office; in 1978, The King And I was too associated with Brynner to be a “must-see” for audiences without him.) Here’s a clip — Lansbury’s “Shall I Tell You What I Think Of You?”
Come back next month for another musical rarity! And stay tuned tomorrow for more Good Times!