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The King and I (Music Theater of Lincoln Center 1964 Production)

Darren McGavin, Franz Allers & Risë Stevens

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Album Review

In 1964, Richard Rodgers accepted a position as president and producing director of Music Theater of Lincoln Center, a summer series of limited engagement revival productions of famous Broadway musicals performed at the New York State Theater at the recently opened Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The series' first show, appropriately enough, was The King and I, for which Rodgers had composed the music. It starred opera singer Rise Stevens as Anna Leonowens, the widowed British teacher who travels to Siam to instruct the children of the king, played by television actor Darren McGavin. With such casting, Rodgers re-adjusted the balance in the show, which had been written in 1951 for famed British actress Gertrude Lawrence, but turned Yul Brynner into a star. Of course, the vocal talents were also upgraded by the use of Stevens, a much better singer than Lawrence, and Rodgers also brought in another opera singer, Patricia Neway, who had sung "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" in The Sound of Music, to play Lady Thiang, and her major number, a similarly rangy ballad "Something Wonderful." With the use of McGavin, best known for playing TV detectives, the balance may have been tipped too far, however. The king doesn't have much to do on cast and soundtrack albums beyond the patter song "A Puzzlement," but McGavin demonstrated that he didn't have much of a singing voice, making this album inferior to the original Broadway cast and original soundtrack albums featuring Brynner. The disc is notable, however, as the longest yet recording of the show at 50 minutes, including, for the first time, eight-and-a-half minutes of "The Small House of Uncle Thomas." [The 2006 CD reissue added one previously unreleased bonus track, a one-and-a-half-minute rendition of "Western People Funny" by Neway.]

Customer Reviews

Rodgers Rocks

This Lincoln Center 1964 recording is the first cd release of a gatefold album that's been a collector's item for years. This show was supervised by Richard Rodgers, the composer, as head of the Music Theater of Lincoln Center at the time. Incredible sound and orchestrations, great singers performing here: Rise Stevens, met opera star, Lee Venora, another opera singer is Tuptim, Frank Poretta is with her in the duets, incredible power tenor, and Patricia Neway (original Abbess from Sound of Music). Can't beat this vocally and musical orchestrations are to rodgers specifications. Don't miss this one.

Small House of Uncle Thomas

A slightly shortened version of the ballet "Small House of Uncle Thomas" is included here, in a nice rendition of the score....the leads fall a bit flat for me (Rise Stevens sounds a bit prim as Anna and Darren McGaven is hoarse), but the supporting cast is marvelous.

I get to sing this!

Well not all of the songs but I am doing this play in school and these songs are realy amazing when you hear the whole song. especially the Small House of Uncle Thomas song, it is like a play within the play. (It really is, it tells a whole story) And that is the scene I get to dance in. All I'm saying is I think the small house song/play is the best. ENJOY!

The King and I (Music Theater of Lincoln Center 1964 Production), Darren McGavin
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