Maria Friedman (pictured) will move from the small-scale to the epic-scale for her next project – starring in a new fully staged, in-the-round production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1951 Broadway classic The King and I, which will run at the Royal Albert Hall for 20 performances only from 12 to 28 June 2009.

Based on the novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, The King and I has music by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical was famously made into a 1956 film starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner. The stage version was last seen in the West End at the London Palladium in 2000/1 in a revival that starred first Elaine Paige and then Josie Lawrence (See News, 5 Sep 2001).

Set in the late 19th century, The King and I tells the story of the British widow and governess Anna Leonowens, who’s brought to the court of Siam as tutor to the King’s children. Once within the sumptuous Royal Palace of Bangkok, Anna and the King grow to understand and respect one another and learn about each other’s cultures. The score includes “Shall We Dance”, “I Whistle a Happy Tune”, “Hello Young Lovers” and “Getting to Know You”.

At the Royal Albert Hall, Friedman will be joined by Daniel Dae Kim, best known to TV fans from Lost, as the King of Siam. The King and I is directed by Jeremy Sams, whose most recent credits include The Sound of Music in the West End and Toronto and 13 on Broadway. It’s designed by Robert Jones, choreographed by Susan Kikuchi and produced by Raymond Gubbay and the Royal Albert Hall, presented by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Limited on behalf of R&H Theatricals of New York.

Maria Friedman has won three Laurence Olivier Awards: for Ragtime, Passion and By Special Arrangement. She also won Best Actress in a Musical in the Theatregoers’ Choice Awards for The Woman in White, which she also starred in on Broadway. Friedman’s other musical credits Chicago, Lady in the Dark, The Witches of Eastwick and Sunday in the Park with George. Her current concert show, Maria Friedman: Rearranged - which has transferred to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios, where it runs until 4 January 2009, following its run earlier this year at the Menier Chocolate Factory – has earned her a nomination for Best Solo Performance in this year’s Awards (click here to vote now!).

- by Terri Paddock