HOUSTON – "Getting to Know You" is, of course, one of the signature songs in Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I. But Houstonians are the last theatergoers who will be able to get to know Hayley Mills as leading lady Anna Leonowens. Mills is bowing out of the national tour after the Houston run, April 7 - 12 in Jones Hall. Marie Osmond is her replacement.
The 1996 restaging of The King and I won four Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival, Best Scenic Design, and Best Costume Design. The original 1951 production received five Tonys, among them Best Musical. The King and I is loosely based on Margaret Landon's novel, Anna and the King of Siam, itself derived from the memoirs of Leonowens, a 19th century Englishwoman who became governess to the children of the King of Siam.
Mills whistled a happy tune in the 1960 film Pollyanna, for which she was bestowed a special Oscar. Other actresses who have portrayed the determined Anna include Gertrude Lawrence, Angela Lansbury, Barbara Cook, Eileen Brennan, and Florence Henderson.
Part of the MasterCard Broadway Series, The King and I plays Jones Hall in Houston April 7 - 12. For tickets, $46 - $52, call (713) 629-3700
By Peter Szatmary