The new cast of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues - Elizabeth McGovern, Nina Wadia and Lauren Ward - take over at the Arts Theatre for four weeks from tonight, 19 November 2001. They replace Sophie Dahl, Miriam Margolyes and Suzanne Bertish. A Christmas cast, which will come on from 17 December, will include Loretta Swit (famous as "Hotlips" from TV's Mash) making her West End debut.

McGovern (pictured), an American now living in Britain, has appeared in numerous films including The House of Mirth, Wings of a Dove, The Handmaid's Tale, Racing with the Moon, Once upon a Time in America and Ragtime. She has appeared on stage in the UK in The Misanthrope (Young Vic), Three Days of Rain (Donmar Warehouse) and, most recently in Dinner with Friends (Hampstead), which is on the cards for a West End transfer in the new year.

Nina Wadia is best known for starring in British TV series Goodness Gracious Me, Perfect World and Strangers. And American Lauren Ward's credits include Follies, 1776, The Heiress and Carousel, all on Broadway. Loretta Swit's co-stars for the Christmas cast have not yet been announced.

Originally seen Off-Off Broadway in 1996, the award-winning Vagina Monologues first came to London in 1999 when it ran for a six-week season, with Ensler on her own, at the fringe King's Head Theatre in Islington. During that UK outing, a special Valentine's Day performance, repeating a similar affair run the year before in New York, was also mounted at the West End's Old Vic Theatre. Joining Ensler on stage for the V-Day celebration were a host of British and American actresses, including Kate Winslet, Natasha McElhone, Melanie Griffiths, Marisa Tomei, Cate Blanchett, Calista Flockhart, Gillian Anderson, and Jane Lapotaire.

The current West End production first opened at the New Ambassadors in May 2001 with Ensler herself presenting the works solo. She was soon replaced by regularly refreshed threesomes which included Jerry Hall, Pam Ferris, Jenny Éclair, Maureen Lipman, Edie Falco, Sophie Okenodo, Mariella Frostrup, Amy Irving, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Dannii Minogue, Kika Markham and Meera Syal. The show closed at the New Ambassadors on 22 September and re-opened one month later around the corner at the Arts Theatre, where it is now running concurrently with a late-night comedy season.

The Vagina Monologues, subtitled "An Anthropological Exploration", reveals a series of different women's stories and experiences involving their genitalia. The material was gathered from hundreds of intimate interviews, conducted by Ensler, in which women were asked probing questions such as "If it (your vagina) could talk, what would it say?". The show is produced in London by Sally Greene for Old Vic Productions and Mark Goucher and presented by arrangement with David Stone.

- by Terri Paddock

- by Terri Paddock

WIN TICKETS!!! - Click here to win one of ten pairs of tickets to see the Christmas cast of The Vagina Monologues. Competition ends 19 December 2001.