Staging Difference: Cultural Pluralism in American Theatre and Drama

By Marc Maufort | Go to book overview
of it." An anonymous reviewer for The Newark Evening News of a '69 production at the Paper Mill Playhouse, however, compared the "exotic never-never land" of Siam in the musical to the war-torn Southeast Asia of today. The critic added ascerbically, "Perhaps Anna and the others who opened Asia to modern life should have left well enough alone."
5.
Both Rodgers and Hammerstein consciously sought to avoid the overt racism of past theatrical productions featuring Asian characters. Biographer David Ewen cites Hammerstein as stating: "I did not want to tread on any Oriental toes. . . . I had to be careful about gags about the huge number of wives in the royal family. What was required was the Eastern sense of dignity and pageantry--and none of this business of girls dressed in Oriental costumes and dancing out onto the stage and singing 'ching-aling-aling' with their fingers in the air" (267-68). For Rodgers, "the contrast between Eastern and Western cultures" (270) was one of the primary inducements for him to tackle the project. He also recognized, however, that he would have to westernize the music of Siam to appeal to American audiences. "I have always compared my approach to this particular score to the way an American painter like Grant Wood might put his impressions of Bangkok on canvass," Rodgers wrote. "It would look like Siam, but like Siam as seen through the eyes of an American artist" (74). This is as close as Rodgers comes to admitting that his score is "oriental" on the outside, but thoroughly American within.

Works Cited
Anonymous. [ "Review of The King and I"]. The Newark Evening News 26 March, 1969.
Atkinson Brooks. [ "Review of The King and I"]. New York Times 30 March, 1951: 26.
_____. [ "Review of The Flower Drum Song"]. New York Times 2 December, 1968: 44.
Baritz Loren. "American Exceptionalism," in To Reason Why: The Debate About the Causes of U.S. Involvement in the Vietnam War, ed. Jeffrey P. Kimball. New York: McGraw, Hill, 1990. 315-31.
Brown John Mason. [ "Review of The King and I"]. Saturday Review 34 ( April 14, 1951): 44-46.
Brynner Rock. Yul, The Man Who Would Be King: A Memoir of Father and Son. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989.
Cassidy Claudia. [ "Review of The King and I"]. Chicago Tribune 10 June, 1951.
Chapman John. [ "Review of The Flower Drum Song"]. New York Daily News 2 December, 1958: 53.
Clipping File on The King and I, New York Public Library.
Clurman Harold. [ "Review of The King and I"]. The New Republic 124 ( April 16, 1951): 29-30.
Coleman Robert. [ "Review of The King and I"]. New York Daily Mirror 30 March,

-72-

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