I used to think that the most beautiful orchid I ever saw – a Marco Polo dendrobium – was in Thailand. In Chiang Mai, to be precise. That was before I glimpsed a garden of mauve cattleyas in Maui. The beauty of Hawaiian orchids was brought home to me this week, as I watched video footage from the Tuesday-night curtain call of The King and I.

It was the debut of Marin Mazzie as Mrs. Anna and Daniel Dae Kim as The King. An emotional evening all around, according to reports I got from members of the ensemble. Kim, who stars on the hit CBS series “Hawaii Five-O,” and makes his home in Oahu, had leis flown in from Hawaii for the occasion. Made of white orchids, they were presented to each member of the cast before the end of the performance.

It was fitting, however, that only Mazzie sported hers at the curtain call. Before she walked to the front of the stage for a splendid bow, Kim garlanded her with the lei. The orchids, with burgundy braiding to match Mazzie’s bustling costume, shone as beautifully as diamonds. It was a lovely tribute, which reminded many of us of the opening night at LCT’s previous Rodgers and Hammerstein production: South Pacific.

On that occasion, another Hawaii resident, Loretta Sayres Able, who was Bloody Mary, ordered up leis for the ensemble and the orchestra. It is such a fitting custom that I hereby decree, with a king’s solemn authority, that all future R & H productions at LCT must have at least one lead actor from the 50th state!

Brendan Lemon is the editor of lemonwade.com.