So it isn't Patsy Kensit after all – Josie Lawrence has been confirmed to take over from Elaine Paige as Anna Leonowens in The King and I at the Palladium. She assumes the role from 24 April 2001 with an official opening night on 9 May.

Lawrence will play opposite Hawaiian-born actor, Keo, in his West End debut. The current leads, Paige and Paul Nakauchi, will finish at the end of their current contracts.

Lawrence is best known to UK audiences for her comic television working in series such as Fat Friends, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, The Flint Street Nativity, Friday Night Live and Absolutely Fabulous. Her extensive theatre work includes The Taming of the Shrew and Faust at the RSC, Much Ado About Nothing at the Manchester Royal Exchange, and The Alchemist at the National. Her films include Enchanted April.

First produced in 1951, The King and I is based on the novel "Anna and the King of Siam" by Margaret Landon and has music by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. This revival of the show originated in Australia in 1991, before opening in 1996 on Broadway, where it had a two-year run. Its many awards and accolades include four Tony Awards, four Drama Desk Awards, three Outer Critics Circle Awards and two Theatre World Awards. It was recently nominated for four Laurence Olivier awards, including Outstanding Musical Production.

The West End production opened to sell-out audiences at the Palladium on 3 May 2000 and is currently booking to January 2002. It is directed by Christopher Renshaw, with choreography by Jerome Robbins, musical staging by Lar Lubovitch, scenic design by Brian Thomson, costume design by Roger Kirk and lighting by Nigel Levings. Orchestrations are by Robert Russell Bennett, with additional orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin and musical supervision and direction by John Owen Edwards. The show is produced in the West End by James Erskine, John Frost, and David Ian, in association with the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organisation.