Classic Broadway black comedy Arsenic and Old Lace has brought its closure at the West End's Strand Theatre forward by three weeks. The all-star revival opened on 25 February 2003 (previews from 14 February) and last month announced a six-week extension to its limited season, taking it up to 21 June 2003. Instead, it will now close on 31 May after a run of three-and-a-half months.

Speaking to today, producer Katherine Doré echoed the sentiments of many industry insiders: "We've had a very successful run and are very happy, but the market in the West End at the moment is dead. Everybody is losing money. If we were carrying on a longer season, we would stick it out, but there doesn't seem much sense in going into a nosedive for the sake of a couple of weeks."

Joseph Kesselring's Broadway hit originally ran at the Strand for a record-breaking 1,337 performances from December 1942. The wicked comedy follows the antics of two little old ladies who poison old men and bury them in the basement of their Victorian home in Brooklyn. Arsenic and Old Lace premiered in 1941 on Broadway where it ran for three-and-a-half years. It was later immortalised in Frank Capra's 1944 film in which Cary Grant played the murderesses' nephew Mortimer Brewster, a theatre-hating drama critic.

Matthew Francis' new West End production stars American Michael Richards of Seinfeld fame as well as Brits Stephen Tompkinson, Olivier Award winner Marcia Warren, Thelma Barlow and Rupert Vansittart. It's designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis.

The next show scheduled for the Strand Theatre is The Rat Pack - the concert-style tribute show starring look- and sound-alikes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr - which transfers from the Theatre Royal Haymarket where it finishes an extended season on 24 May. It's due to reopen at the Strand from 26 June 2003 (See News, 29 Apr 2003).

- by Terri Paddock