A new UK tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I begins, appropriately, in Glasgow’s King’s Theatre and will delight classical musical theatre fans. Much of the audience will be familiar with the jaunty, playful songs and will happily enjoy the lively performances of them. Newcomers, on the other hand, will no doubt pick up on songs like Shall We Dance and Getting to Know You – two of those musical numbers which seem to have have wormed their way into our collective knowledge.

The story very firmly centres on the relationship between English Anna Leonowens (Annalene Beechey) and the King of Siam (Darren Lee). Almost every scene charts the various stages of their connection from master and servant to bantering debate foes to almost-lovers. Anna is immediately morally driven and compassionate, played warmly by Beechey. On the other hand, Lee’s King is the one who we watch change; he is rude, aggressive, and stubborn. We desperately wait for him to be changed and softened by Anna. It’s inevitable, but this is really what the likely audience respond to – joy in the predictability.

A highlight is the second Act play within a play – an extended and distinctive segment featuring beautiful dance performances and beguiling visual storytelling through movement and prop work. Perhaps it’s a slightly indulgent distraction from the actual narrative – some symbolic links aside – but it’s engaging and dazzling nonetheless. On the other hand, the lack of stage time given to the subplot romance between Tuptim (Marienella Phillips) and Lun Tha (Dean John-Wilson) makes it difficult to invest in their relationship, despite the beautiful and sentimental I Have Dreamed duet.

What is most startling about this musical is its strong similarities to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s – arguably far more widely-known – The Sound of Music, first performed eight years after The King and I debuted in 1951. Both focus on a teacher or governess who arrives in an opulent home to look after a large group of motherless children with a stern, powerful father. The female protagonist then argues with the father in one or two explosive scenes before bringing him around to her more liberal, emotive ways. Each features a young clandestine affair that ends in a sinister fashion, as well as a climactic palatial ball that culminates in a romantic dance between the central lovers. There’s even a song in each delivered by the ‘new mother’ to the scared children in a bedroom at night, teaching them how to conquer their fears. Once the pattern is spotted, it’s difficult not to notice the conspicuous connections.

Nevertheless, The King and I is a shiny, family-friendly production that succeeds. Yes, it’s of its time – there’s male gaslighting, white saviour syndrome, and perhaps some cultural mockery all at play here – but the audience can appreciate the ‘of-its-time’ nature of it all. It’s big, classic showmanship that will reliably please.