Mrs. Anna Leonowens journeys to Siam with her son Louis to take up the position of Governess and Tutor to the King’s many children. They are met by the Kralahome, the King’s senior advisor and Anna insists that the King’s promise of a separate house is kept.
Some weeks later the King recieves Lun Tha, an emmissary from Burma, who has brought him a gift of a girl, Tuptim. On their journey Lun Tha and Tuptim have fallen in love. Anna is introduced to the King who makes it clear that Anna will do his bidding, living in the palace and teaching his wives and children. Anna is determined to leave but is enchanted by the children and remains.
Anna’s western teachings soon revolutionise Palace thinking. Despite the King’s initial brusqueness he is willing to learn. He is keen that his heir, Prince Chululongkorn is ready to govern. However, his own traditional views about women come to the fore when he tells Anna she is his servant. She decides to leave before she becomes too attached to the children.
The Kralahome and Lady Thiang, the King’s head wife, conspire to bring the King and Anna back together again, principally for political gain as the British Ambassador, Sir Edward Ramsay, is on his way. The King and Anna agree to present Tuptim’s play to the guests and he finally concedes Anna the house she desires.
Lun Tha and Tuptim decide to elope after the play but Tuptim is captured and Lun Tha is found dead. Anna defies the King who finds himself unable to flog Tuptim, but this demonstration of tradition is too much for Anna and she again resolves to leave. Some months later as Anna prepares to board a ship Lady Thiang brings a letter from the King, who is now dying, and Anna arrives in time to effect a reconcilliation. She also witnesses the effect her teachings have had on Chululonkorn, the new King. The King dies and Anna, kneeling beside him, takes his lifeless hand and kisses it.
The timeless score includes “I Whistle A Happy Tune”, “Hello Young Lovers”, “Getting To Know You”, “Something Wonderful” and “Shall We Dance”.