The King and I, the musical retelling of “Anna and the King of Siam” which made Yul Brenner an international star, will run at Olney Theatre Center November 14 through December 29, 2013, the Company announced last week.
The Rodgers and Hammerstein Musical – the 4th longest-running in Broadway history – is based on the real-life experiences of Anna Leonowens, who served as a tutor in the household of Mongkut, 4th King of Siam (now Thailand) in the 1860s. It is notable for its willingness to make observations about Western society through a clash of cultures.
“I think The King and I is one of the five most important pieces American musical theater has given to the world of drama,” says Jason Loewith, Olney’s new Artistic Director. “Colonialism, the rights of women, the ideal of a post-racial society – it was way ahead of its time, and will resonate with many Olney audiences.”
The King and I will replace Once Upon a Mattress on Olney’s schedule.
Olney will also present a world premiere of Stephen Dietz’s Rancho Mirage September 26 through October 20. Olney’s premiere of this play, which the company calls “a bitingly funny black comedy about what happens when the fictions that hold our lives together are exposed…[a] sojourn into the psyche of 2013 America – where affluence is perhaps our greatest mirage – [in which] three couples, long-time friends, find themselves at a dinner party where everyone finally decides to tell the truth,” is part of a “rolling premiere” in which the play will go on to premieres in Watertown, MA, Indianapolis, and Denver. The rolling premiere is sponsored by the National New Play Network, where Loewith served as Executive Director before coming to Olney.
Dietz is a prolific playwright whose work has been seen at MetroStage (Lonely Planet), Maryland Ensemble Theatre (Dracula), the Contemporary American Theater Festival (Yankee Tavern), Bay Theatre (Becky’s New Car) and the Capital Fringe (The Nina Variations).
“As the community around Olney Theatre Center gets ever-more diverse and dynamic, we need to stop talking about a single audience,” Loewith advises. “Instead, let’s get talking with all the audiences around us, and program the best works of theater we can for each of them. We’ll stretch the boundaries of theater for families who love the classics…and we’ll make sure those audiences in search of cutting-edge theatrical adventure get to see new works by American masters.”