State Theatre New Jersey

Scene Notes

Taking on Anna Leonowens

Anna Leonowens stands throughout history as one of the iconic leading ladies in musical theater. The role has been taken on by many incredible women from Gertrude Lawrence to Kelli O'Harra, dancing their way across the stage and screen. Check out our list of 10 amazing leading ladies who have taken on this role in anticipation of Rodger & Hammerstein's The King and I making its way to The State on December 14 and 15!

  1. Gertrude Lawrence - Original Broadway Cast member 1951, known for her performances and presence in Film (Battle of Paris, The Glass Menagerie), Broadway (Pygmalion), and West End (London Calling!).

  2. Deborah Kerr - Anna in the 1956 film adaptation of The King and I. She was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the Academy Awards and won Best Actress at the Golden Globes. Watch the video of her performing "Shall We Dance" with Yul Brynner here:

  3. Angela Lansbury - Anna in 1978, Voice of Mrs. Potts in the original Beauty and the Beast movie in1991, Lansbury has received an Honorary Oscar and has won five Tony Awards®, six Golden Globes, and an Olivier Award. She has also been nominated for numerous other industry awards, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress on three occasions, and various Primetime Emmy Awards® on 18 occasions.

  4. Eileen Brennan - Oscar nominated, Emmy® and Golden Globe winning actress, starred in comdeic movie mystery Clue. In 1978 she starred as Anna in a City Center Production in NYC.

  5. Mary Beth Peil - Starred in the 1985 Revival of The King and I, starred in Dawson's Creek and The Good Wife, among other shows on television. Was most recently seen on broadway in her Tony®-nominated role as the Dowager Empress in Anastasia.

  6. Donna Murphy - Voice of Mother Gothel in Tangled, won two Tony Awards® for Best Performance by a Leading Actress for Anna in The King and I in 1996 Revival and for Passion in 1994.

  7. Marie Osmond - Best known for being a member of the show business family The Osmonds, famed country music artist in 70s and 80s, starred in the 1996 Broadway Revival following Donna Murphy. Hear her talk about her role here:

  8. Elaine Paige - Starred in numerous West End Productions, such as Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita, Hair, Grease as Sandy, and Anna in The King and I in 2000. Paige is often referred to as the First Lady of British Musical Theatre.

  9. Kelli O'Hara - 2015 Revival Broadway Cast, she won Tony Award® for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for this role after being nominated in the same category five times for her roles in The Pajama Game, South Pacific, Nice Work if You Can Get It, and The Bridges of Madison County. Watch her Tony Awards performance here:

  10. Laura Michelle Kelly - Kicked off the 2016 national tour of The King and I. Past Roles include Lucy Barker in the 2007 Sweeney Todd film by Tim Burton, won an Olivier Award for playing the title role in Mary Poppins in London, a role she later played on Broadway. Her other Broadway credits include Finding Neverland and Fiddler on the Roof. Watch her perform "Getting to Know You" on the tour below:

By Bernadine Quach

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