Having last month announced an early closing date of 22 May 1999, the Royal Exchange Theatre production of the Marx Brothers' musical comedy Animal Crackers has now brought forward its closing date by another week. The production made headlines last week when the Prince of Wales, a reportedly avid Marx Brothers fan, and his girlfriend Camilla Parker-Bowles attended an evening's performance at the Lyric Theatre, where Animal Crackers opened on 16 March 1999 (previews from 11 March). But the attention failed to generate sufficient audience numbers. The show will now close on 15 May 1999, after a nine-week run.

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 British production was first staged in Manchester by the Royal Exchange Theatre in Christmas 1996 and was revived last year, playing a short run at London's Barbican Theatre.

The London production of Animal Crackers stars Ben Keaton, Joe Alessi and Toby Sedgwick as the wacky brothers with a supporting cast including 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 will be followed by the return of the Argentine dance musical Tango Pasion. The show has been touring internationally for the past five years and was a sell-out during its last run in London, when it appeared last year at the London Palladium for two nights only. The Tango Pasion company includes thirty dancers, singers and musicians and the Sexteto Mayor Orchestra, the most renowned tango orchestra in the world. Tango Pasion will play at the Lyric for ten weeks from 26 May 1999.