Marty Rhone
Marty Rhone

Australian music legend and theatre icon Marty Rhone will join the upcoming multimillion-dollar production of The King and I.

35 years have passed since he was first in the London production alongside superstar Yul Brynner, and now Marty is back to reignite the magic in the role of The Kralahome.

What was your experience of the first time you played in The King and I as the young lover, Lun Tha?

One of the highlights of my career. How could it not be? Sharing the stage with a Hollywood superstar; scenes with a dame of British theatre and film Virginia McKenna. Performing in one of the great theatres of the world – The London Palladium. Singing two of the best songs in the show with a 52 piece orchestra conducted by a legend of British music, Cyril Ornadel, and knowing that every week there would be many of my own idols, in the audience, watching me on stage, e.g. De Niro, Hoffman, Sally Field and royalty, both British and Princess Grace of Monaco and King Hussein of Jordan (twice).

Tell us about the character you are playing— why do we love him and why do we hate him?

The Kralahome, or Prime Minister, is the King’s confidant and advisor. We love him for his devotion to the King, his master, but also hate him for his intransigence when it comes to Mrs Anna and the continuous hard time he gives her.

Why is this production close to your heart?

I remember the final performance in London. During the final curtain calls, it was like I was transcended through time and space. I was absorbed by the occasion; looking at the magnificent chandeliers, the streamers, the cheering crowd and I remember thinking, “Will I ever experience anything like this again? Well, I am about to once again.

How is a story set in the 1800s still relevant for today’s audiences?

It is arguably one of the greatest love stories ever told— for two couples in the show, sadly, both with tragic endings. The clash of cultures is still so much a part of society today.


What is The King and I essentially about?

It is essentially a love story that tells of a wonderful adventure that was doomed from the start for so many of those involved because of that clash of cultures. It is also about a once in a lifetime experience for Anna Leonowens…East meets West. It is ironic that it is only recently that royalty has lost out through the westernisation of what was once a closed society.

What was it like performing alongside the original King, Yul Brynner?

Yul Brynner was the most charismatic actor I have ever had the pleasure of working with and whilst he was far removed from the cast from a social aspect he was also one of the most generous actors I have ever worked with because of his willingness to impart his knowledge of stagecraft. His professional demands were high but behind all of the aloofness, he was a very generous human being.

What can we expect from the production this time around that is different from previous performances of The King and I?

You will need to ask the producers but I can tell you it will be lavish and a great cast has been assembled. I am very much looking forward to my scenes with Lisa McCune.