From tonight, Lloyd Hutchinson and Kieran Lagan assume the roles of Charlie Conlon and Jake Quinn in Marie Jones' multi award-winning two-hander, Stones in His Pockets, at the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre. The pair take over from Sean Sloan and Louis Dempsey who returned for three weeks in January ahead of a world tour that starts next week in Australia and continues to New Zealand, Hong Kong, Austria and Canada.

Also this month, the comedy’s first US tour launches (starring Americans Bronson Pinchot and Christopher Burns, seen last year in the West End), and original stars Conleth Hill and Sean Campion return to Ireland for their farewell Stones seasons in Dublin and Belfast. Other Stones productions have been mounted in Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, Turkey, South Africa and Italy.

Stones in His Pockets, a bittersweet tale about what happens when a Hollywood film crew moves in on a small Irish village, started life at Belfast's Lyric Theatre in April 1999 before steamrolling on to success in Dublin and Edinburgh. It was first seen in London at the fringe Tricycle Theatre before transferring to the West End's New Ambassadors Theatre in May 2000 for a limited twelve-week season and then on to the larger Duke of York's in August 2000. The West End Stones is currently taking bookings up to 1 June 2002, while a separate UK-wide touring production is due to open in Birmingham in August.

The play's many awards include the Whatsonstage.com, Olivier and Evening Standard awards for Best Comedy and a Special Achievement Award from the Outer Critics Circle in New York. Original star Conleth Hill has also been named best actor in the Irish Times, Olivier and Whatsonstage.com awards. While, as at the 2001 Oliviers, both Hill and Campion were nominated for a Best Actor Tony Award.

Stones in His Pockets is directed by the author's husband, Ian McElhinney, with design by Jack Kirwan and lighting by James C McFetridge. Marie Jones' new musical, Weddings Weeuns and Wakes, opened in Belfast in November 2001 and will embark on a UK tour later this year.

- by Terri Paddock