The West End production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I has posted early closing notices at the London Palladium. The musical, starring Josie Lawrence as British governess Anna Leonowens who falls in love with the King of Siam, had been booking to 30 March 2002. It will now close - after a year and a half in the West End - on 5 January 2002 ahead of a national tour which opens in Edinburgh on 19 April 2002.

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 foreign awards include four Tony Awards, four Drama Desk Awards, three Outer Critics Circle Awards and two Theatre World Awards.

The West End production opened to sell-out audiences at the Palladium on 3 May 2000, with West End diva Elaine Paige and Jason Scott Lee playing the leads. It was nominated for four Laurence Olivier awards, including Outstanding Musical Production. Lawrence took over as Anna in April of this year, with Keo Woolford playing her king.

The King and I 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.

Further dates and casting for the tour of The King and I have yet to be announced. Also uncertain is what will follow once it has vacated the Palladium. One rumour is that the successor is likely to be Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the long-awaited stage musical based on the MGM/United Artists Picture, which is adapted by Jeremy Sams and directed by RSC artistic director Adrian Noble.

- by Terri Paddock