The musical opened in 1951 starring British actress Gertrude Lawrence and Russian actor and director Yul Brynner as Anna and the King of Siam. Brynner was then relatively unknown, but shot to stardom for his performance in the hit. The show played for three years, but lost its leading lady when Lawrence died of liver cancer halfway through the run.
.Lawrence had to wear costume gowns that weighed up to 34 kg, and her character danced a total of 6.4km in every performance, eight shows a week. Lawrence was buried in one of her costumes from the show.