The King and I

Original Broadway Production (1951)

Trivia & History

Gertrude Lawrence was diagnosed with cancer during the run of the show. She began missing shows quite frequently and collapsed in her dressing room. She died in September 1952, buried in her pink satin ballgown from the show.

Rex Harrison and Noël Coward were both considered for the role of The King. Both were booked. Alfred Drake was offered the role but his demand for $5000 a week was too high. Mary Martin suggested her co-star from Lute Song, Yul Brynner. Richard Rodgers liked to tell the story of Brynner's audition as Yul sitting onstage cross-legged playing a guitar and yowling a strange, exotic song. Brynner disputed this. He was reluctant to go back on the stage, being a fairly successful television director. After urging from Mary Martin, his agent, and his wife, he finally read the script.

The budget was $250,000. It was the most expensive Rodgers and Hammerstein show up to that point. Among the investors were Joshua Logan, Mary Martin, Billy Rose and Leland Hayward.

Some online sources incorrectly list a number of performers who were in the ensemble as members of "The Royal Dancers" as having been replacements in the production's group of "Princesses and Princes." Both original-cast members and replacements in "The Royal Dancers" are incorrectly listed in these sources as having been replacements in the "Princesses and Princes."

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