Saturday Open Thread

Good Morning. I hope you’re enjoying the day with family and friends.

The King and I is a stage musical, the fifth by the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The work is based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon and derives from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, who became governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. The story deals with the experiences of the British schoolteacher, who is hired as part of the King’s drive to modernize his country. The relationship between the King and Anna is marked by conflict through much of the play, as well as by a love that neither is able to express. The musical premiered on March 29, 1951 at Broadway’s St. James Theatre, closed on March 20, 1954 and has received tours and revivals.

In 1950, theatrical attorney Fanny Holtzmann was looking for a part for her client, veteran leading lady Gertrude Lawrence. Holtzmann realized that Landon’s book would be an ideal vehicle and contacted Rodgers and Hammerstein, who were initially reluctant, but who agreed to write the musical. The pair initially sought Rex Harrison to play the supporting part of the King—he had played the role in the 1946 movie made from Landon’s book—but Harrison was unavailable. They settled on Russian-American actor Yul Brynner.

The musical was an immediate hit, winning Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Actress (for Lawrence) and Best Featured Actor (for Brynner). Lawrence died unexpectedly of cancer a year and a half after the opening, and the role of Anna was played by other actresses during the remainder of the Broadway run of three years (1,246 performances). A national tour and a hit London run followed, together with a 1956 film for which Brynner won an Academy Award. More successful revivals were mounted. In the early 1980s, Brynner starred in an extended national tour of the musical, culminating with a 1985 Broadway run, shortly before his death. Later major revivals of The King and I included productions on Broadway in 1996 and in the West End in 2000.


In 1950, Gertrude Lawrence’s business manager and attorney, Fanny Holtzmann, was looking for a new property for her client, when the 1944 Margaret Landon book Anna and the King of Siam (a fictionalized version of Leonowens’ experiences) was sent to her by Landon’s William Morris agent.[5] According to Rodgers biographer Meryle Secrest, Holtzmann was worried that Lawrence’s career was fading.[6] In any case, Lawrence had appeared in plays rather than musicals since Lady in the Dark closed in 1943.[7] Holtzmann agreed that a musical based on Anna and the King of Siam would be ideal for Lawrence.[5] Lawrence purchased the rights to adapt the book for the stage.[8] Holtzmann initially wanted Cole Porter to write the score, but he refused. Holtzmann was going to approach Noël Coward next, but happened to meet Dorothy Hammerstein (Oscar’s wife) in Manhattan. Holtzmann told Dorothy Hammerstein that she wanted Rodgers and Hammerstein to do a show for Lawrence, and to see that her husband read a book that Holtzmann would send over. Both Dorothy Rodgers and Dorothy Hammerstein were under instructions to pass along all such messages to their husbands, and Dorothy Hammerstein did so. In fact, both wives had read the book in 1944, and had urged their husbands to consider it as a possible subject for a musical.[5]

Rodgers and Hammerstein had disliked Landon’s book as a basis for a musical when it was published, and their views still held. Landon’s book consists of episodes, showing vignettes of life at the Siamese court, along with descriptions of historical events.[9] The episodes in the book are unconnected, except that the King creates most of the difficulties featured in the vignettes, and Anna tries to resolve them.[10] They could see no coherent story from which a musical could be made.[9] Their view changed when they saw the 1946 film adaptation, starring Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison, and saw how the screenplay had united the episodes in the book. They became more interested in the idea of writing a musical adaptation.[9] However, the pair was concerned about Lawrence herself. They had rarely used theatrical stars in their joint works; they preferred to make stars rather than hire them, and hiring the legendary Gertrude Lawrence would be expensive. Another concern was Lawrence’s voice: she had never had a great vocal range, and it was diminishing with the years. Becoming more pronounced, on the other hand, was a tendency to sing flat. Lawrence’s temperament was another concern: though she could not sing like one, the star was fully capable of diva-like behavior.[11] However, they admired her acting and stage presence—what Hammerstein called her “magic light”, causing her to be a compelling force onstage, and they agreed to write the show.[12] For her part, Lawrence agreed to remain in the show until June 1, 1953, and waived the star’s usual veto rights over cast and director, leaving control in the hands of the two authors.[13]


Hammerstein found his “door in” to the play in Landon’s account of a slave in Siam writing about Abraham Lincoln. This would eventually become the narrated dance, “The Small House of Uncle Thomas”. Since any romantic feelings between the King and Anna could not be acknowledged in song, Hammerstein built up the secondary couple, Lun Tha and Tuptim. In the Landon book, the relationship is between Tuptim and a priest, and is not romantic. The most radical change from the book was to have the King die at the end of the play,[14] although in a pre-rehearsal script, Hammerstein makes it unclear whether or not the King dies.[15] In an interview for The New York Times, Hammerstein indicated that he had written the first scene before leaving for London and the West End production of Carousel in mid-1950; a second scene had been written in the British capital.[16]

Hammerstein originally had a very different conception of the “Shall We Dance?” scene, though still touching on the unspoken love between the King and Anna, according to an early script:

Anna tries to explain the Western idea of the love of one man for one woman. It will introduce a new song, which will be Anna’s attempt to describe a romantic love totally foreign to the King’s idea of relations between man and woman. In his part of the song[,] his logical arguments against sentimental monogamy must be a difficult one for Anna to answer. She can only fall back on the fact that in the Western world, this thing which seems so foolish and impossible to him is happening every hour of the day, every day, and a man and a girl are falling in love, believing that they are the only people in the world for each other. At the end of the song, while he does not admit that he is convinced to any degree, it is apparent that he has found her very attractive and somehow can feel this illogical impulse himself, however vaguely.[17]

I’ve always thought it was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most brilliant musical, because the ‘ couple’ of the musical only ‘ comes together’ in a 2 minute dance sequence. Yet, when they dance for that minute, they are ONE, even though it can’t be. And Yul Brynner -YOWSA!!

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23 Responses to Saturday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 10:43 AM PDT.

    My conversation w/ a Republican Bank President+*

    by Zacapoet

    I’ve known Jim and his wife for years, very casually, through our church. We are not in the same social set. But in the last year I’ve run into Jim at Starbucks a dozen times and invariably we converse about the economy.

    Jim’s bank is the local, community bank; not Chase or BOA. Their mortgages are held locally. They are community oriented, community sponsors, solid people. Jim is the exemplification of that ethos. A Republican who votes for Democrats when they are the solid alternative.

    Yesterday I ran into Jim and his wife at Starbucks and they noticed my Obama 2012 button, though they didn’t make a big deal about it. We talked about the jobs numbers, how things could be much better. And then Jim made a startling statement: “The GOP Congress is to blame for the lackluster economy.”

    His reasoning, which his wife agreed with, was that the Tea Party has taken over the agenda and they are creating so much uncertainty that business is leery of jumping into the investment pool. He went on to say that this November the Country has to get behind Obama so that the Tea Party can finally be marginalized.

    In other words–his Party has to lose at the National level in order to reconstitute itself back to a reasonable facsimile of the America that works for the common good.

    Jim and I discussed the need for infrastructure and how government spending now, while the private sector was deleveraging and investment was stagnant, would be the remedy to picking up GDP, until enough consumers were working and deleveraged and able to be self-generating.

    Obviously, hearing this from a decent, conservative, reasonable man; a pillar of our community, made me feel that the message is finally getting thru. We on the ‘left’ must realize that ideological purity is not the path to electoral victory. Jim is voting for Obama because he represents the solid alternative, not because he wants to live in the Paris Commune.

    Obama has always understood this. Will we here ever catch up?

  2. rikyrah says:

    Saturday, July 7, 2012

    The things you learn from wingnuts

    In my travels around the internets, I ran across this article at Pat Robertson’s web site about how Mitt Romney is reaching out to the evangelical community behind the scenes.
    The Brody File has learned that Mitt Romney’s campaign has begun a serious push to engage evangelical leaders behind the scenes, including weekly meetings, personal phone calls from Romney, discussions about appearing at more faith-based events, and serious dialogue about convening a gathering this fall with national evangelical leaders.

    First of all, oops to the Brody File. If he’s doing it “behind the scenes,” it probably means that he doesn’t want it broadcast for all the world to see :-)

    But apparently, Mitt hasn’t managed to seal the deal with these folks yet.

    While the Romney campaign is making a serious push to bring evangelical leaders on board, it isn’t so much the leaders that need convincing. Rather, the focus now is on getting the conservative evangelical base motivated. To that end, The Brody File has learned that last week around 70 conservative Christian leaders met in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., to discuss what it would take to get behind Romney…

    While no final plan was hatched, there is now more communications going back and forth between this group and the Romney campaign where ideas and concerns are being communicated about how best to mobilize the base. What is clear is that evangelical leaders are mostly on board with Romney but their constituencies are not quite there yet.

    If you have any doubts about why Romney’s shake of the etch-a-sketch has him stumbling to create anything as a replacement to his primary season rhetoric…there it is. For instance, here are this group’s demands.

    The bridge between reluctancy and enthusiasm as it pertains to the Romney candidacy is called trust. Can evangelicals trust Romney not only to fix the economy but also will Romney defend life, strengthen the family, push back on the incursions regarding religious liberty as made evident by the HHS mandate? In other words, can evangelicals trust Romney with the trifecta of evangelical concerns; faith, family and freedom?

    What they want is more anti-choice, anti-GLBT, anti-contraception from Romney. After all, what says “freedom” more than the government telling someone who they can/can’t have sex with?

    But here’s the really creepy part. Check out Romney’s approach to these folks from the past.

    In The Brody File’s just released book called, The Teavangelicals, new details emerge about how Romney has been discreetly courting evangelical leaders for years. During a private meeting at his home in the Boston suburbs in 2006, Ann and Mitt Romney visited with more than a dozen evangelical leaders, including Franklin Graham, the late Jerry Falwell, Richard Land, Jay Sekulow, Frank Wright, and Gary Bauer.

    They sat in a circle and ate sandwiches while discussing topics like the fight against radical Islam, stem cell research, and Romney’s Mormon faith. About a month later, all the evangelical attendees received a giant box. Inside was a chair with a brass plate on the back of it. Inscribed on the plate was Romney’s signature with the words, ‘There will always be a seat for you at our table.’

  3. rikyrah says:

    Thu Jul 05, 2012 at 11:36 AM PDT.

    Florida Republican’s response to minimum wage question: ‘Get a job’

    On Wednesday, Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) showed how much he cares about his constituents and their concerns. Asked by a constituent if he would support a Democratic bill to raise the minimum wage, Young repeatedly told the questioner to “get a job”—even though the man responded that he does have a job.

    Constituent: Hi, I’m Pepe, how are you? Happy Fourth of July. Jesse Jackson, Jr. is passing a bill around to increase the minimum wage to 10 bucks an hour. Do you support that?
    Young: Probably not.

    Constituent: 10 bucks an hour would give us a living wage.

    Young: How about getting a job?

    Constituent: I do have one. $8.50 an hour.

    Young: Well, then why do you want that benefit? Get a job.

    Constituent: I have a job. It’s not enough to get by on.
    Apparently Bill Young doesn’t understand that someone might want to earn more than they’re currently earning? And that you might think it’s good policy that if you’re working, you should be earning enough to get by on? No, he hears “minimum wage” and goes straight to “this person must be a lazy bum looking for a handout” and can’t move on from that reaction even when the person turns out to not only have a job, but one that is nearly a dollar an hour above Florida’s minimum wage (which, at $7.67, is higher than the federal minimum of $7.25).
    Seems like Young’s listening skills and caring skills are as broken as his policy skills, since raising the minimum wage would be good not only for low-wage workers but for the economy.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 01:43 PM PDT.

    More than one million Floridians disenfranchised because of felony convictions

    In 2007, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist issued an executive order to restore the voting rights of a huge swath of state citizens: people with felony convictions. Obviously Charlie Crist wasn’t fulfilling his duty as a good Republican. He’s history, as is his democratic reform. Current Gov. Rick Scott reversed that order, and made regaining the franchise an almost insurmountable challenge that starts with a direct appeal to the governor.

    Those with a nonviolent felony must wait five years before applying for a clemency board hearing; others must wait seven years. “Essentially,” the Brennan Center points out, “the new rules give the governor, an elected official, the power to decide who will (or won’t) be allowed to vote in the next election.”
    The impact of reversing the rule is, well, exactly what Scott was intending:

    According to Desmond Meade of the nonprofit Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, “Over 1 million people in Florida right now are disenfranchised,” he says. Nearly 1 in 3 of them are African American men. If these people were able to vote, Meade continues, “Florida would no longer be a swing state.” [emphasis added]
    Between shutting these one million people out of the polls, and the purge of registration rolls that is targeting more than 180,000 people, Scott is in hot pursuit of the Election Thief of 2012 award.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 07:29 PM PDT.

    Mitt Tried to Defund Multiple Sclerosis as Governor + Blind + Vets + Special Olympics

    Yes, Governor Romney disapproved of funding a Bill for Multiple Schlerosis. Unbelievable.

    I spent a few hours today compiling the lists of laws newly elected Governor Romney disapproved of and tried to cut funding for during his first year ON THE RECORD as recorded by the Massachusetts State Senate Journals.

    The lists are SHOCKING! Read through the lists to see if your pet project(s) was disapproved.

    Try to pass this information along to the media, if you have a moment.

    These lists broke my heart. I am almost too stunned to be able to put this together for you.

    Nothing I have read has made me feel more disgusted about Romney’s record, including ALL I have read about Bain Capital, or disheartened at the prospect of Mitt Romney becoming President.

    Following the lists, I will share the research journey I took to find this information. It’s a dark journey beginning with a search of the Department of Justice’s website for “Mitt Romney.” Yes, there were some DOJ search results for “Mitt Romney” and for “Bain Capital.”

    Here are the lists of items “His Excellency the Governor” disapproved of and/or tried to cut funding for presented in the Massachusetts Journal of the Senate seven months after he took office. Only two days are presented: July 17, 2003 and July 14, 2003.

    Massachusetts Journal of the Senate, July 17, 2003. (this link includes the MS funding disapproval); and

    Journal of the Senate, July 14, 2003.

    Let’s reiterate the most shocking item Governor Mitt disapproved of, funding for Multiple Sclerosis, from the July 14, 2003 Journal of the Senate: Section 620, 10:

    (10) $162,368 for the MS PASS program, so-called, as previously established at the department of public health. Said funds shall be expended to maximize matching dollars to be used for services provided by the program as managed by the Central New England chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
    [The Governor disapproved this item.]
    Here’s the rest of the list in no particular order. I have highlighted some items to help those looking for specific interests:

    For the Massachusetts correctional legal services committee $500,000
    Cervical/breast cancer benefits

    Prostate cancer education, prevention and treatment program

    Universal newborn hearing screening program

    New Turning 22 clients, $97,000 – Funding for Adult Mentally Retarded (Massachusetts language)

    MRC – For employment assistance services; provided, that vocational evaluation and employment services for Severely disabled adults may, subject to approbation, be provided; provided further, that not less than $100,000 shall be expended on special projects in Charlestown for people with disabilities; and provided further, that not less than $305,000 shall be expended for the Charlestown Navy Yard Special Project for disabled adults 7,780,098”.

    School breakfast pilot program

  6. Ametia says:

    How Obama Can Really Hurt the GOP: Focus on Its Radical Economic Plan
    by Michael Tomasky Jul 7, 2012 4:45 AM EDT

    The president can sink Romney by trumpeting the details of the ludicrous economic solutions he’s been backing. How Mitt would turn America into one big Pottersville

    Three years ago, two years ago—heck, six months ago—I and a lot of people I know thought: Surely the jobs situation will have picked up as we round the clubhouse turn toward Election Day. I envisioned Barack Obama at the Democratic convention, being able to claim… something fairly modest, but something: three straight months of 200,000-plus-jobs growth. Some kind of hook for an upbeat narrative.

    Well, it looks like it ain’t gonna happen. Obama will be able to make some claims, and he damn well better make them without apology or fear of how the 48th Street Fantasy Factory will spin them. But the story isn’t good enough, so there’s but one alternative: convince people that Mitt Romney and a Republican Congress will make things worse. In a rational world, that wouldn’t be too hard, because except for Ronald Reagan’s second term, making things worse is all Republicans have ever done since Nixon. But our world isn’t rational, and Obama is going to have to confront that fact in a huge way or risk being sent to the showers early.

    It’s amazing, first of all, the importance now of these jobs numbers. Partly it’s because the economy is bad, true; but partly it’s also the blog-and-tweet, more-faster-now political culture. Romney was having an awful week—and, by the way, still did have an awful week. Those issues—the mandate confusion, Bain, the offshoring, the million-dollar IRA—aren’t going anywhere, and they’ll resurface. But obviously, they had to be relieved up in Boston when the 80,000-jobs number came out Friday morning. Big conversation changer.

  7. Ametia says:

    5 Consequences Of The GOP’s Bill To Repeal Obamacare
    By Igor Volsky on Jul 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    The economy may be struggling to create enough jobs to keep up with population growth, but Republicans are busy drafting legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act — a law which the Supreme Court upheld last week and has already extended coverage for thousands of uninsured Americans.

    On Monday, the GOP will convene an “emergency” meeting in the Rules Committee so they could hold a vote on The “Repeal of Obamacare Act” as early as Wednesday July, 11. The seven page messaging bill compiles the best Republican talking points against the law since it passed in 2010, but offers only the smallest hint of how the party plans to extend coverage to the millions who would lose it. “The path to patient-centered care and lower costs for all Americans must begin with a full repeal of the law,” the bill says on page six.

    This free market mantra may resonate with the GOP base, but it does nothing to improve the economy or solve the health care crisis. Below are 5 consequences of the GOP’s repeal legislation:

    1) Millions without coverage. A Congressional Budget Office analysis of the GOP’s repeal measure from 2011 found that “32 million fewer nonelderly people would have health insurance in 2019, leaving a total of about 54 million nonelderly people uninsured. The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83 percent, compared with a projected share of 94 percent under current law (and 83 percent currently).”

    Read on

  8. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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