The Royal Exchange Theatre production of the Marx Brothers' musical comedy classic Animal Crackers will open at the West End's Lyric Theatre on Tuesday 16 March 1999 (previews from 11 March). The British production was first staged in Manchester at the Royal Exchange Theatre during Christmas 1996 and was revived last year, playing a short run at London's Barbican Theatre.

Animal Crackers was one of the first major theatrical successes for the Marx Brothers. The show, written by George S Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind with music and lyrics by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, first opened in New York at Broadway's 44th Street Theatre in October 1928. Starring the Marx Brothers and Margaret Dumont, it had a record-breaking run before being made into the classic film, which received its world premiere in September 1930.

The London production of Animal Crackers will star Ben Keaton, Joe Alessi and Toby Sedgwick who will be joined in the cast by Jean Challis, Peter J Elliott, Eric MacLennan, Hilary O'Neil, Sarah Redmond, Susan Swanton and Sian Williams. The production is directed by Emil Wolk and Gregory Hersov with design by Ultz, lighting by Vince Herbert, sound by Steve Brown, musical direction by Chris Jordon and costumes by David Short.

Animal Crackers follows the peripatetic Peter Hall production of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband into the Lyric Theatre. No new transfer has yet been announced for the long-running Husband.