Ray Cooney’s latest farce Tom, Dick and Harry - which was written with his son Michael and developed with the help of Whatsonstage.com theatregoers – has now confirmed its West End transfer, albeit slightly later than planned (See News, 17 Nov 2004). It will open on 23 August 2005 (previews from 10 August) at the Duke of York’s Theatre, where it’s initially booking until 12 November.

The comedy was originally earmarked for a March 2005 opening featuring comedian Joe Pasquale, who appeared in the play’s original run at the Theatre Royal Windsor in October 2003. However, Pasquale pulled out after winning ITV’s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here in November.

In Tom, Dick and Harry, Tom Kerwood and his wife are trying to adopt a baby. But their attempts to impress the busy-body social worker are jeopardised by Tom’s useless brothers, Dick and Harry, whose zany antics involve illegal immigrants, the Russian mafia and the local police, not to mention a dead body.

Full casting has not yet been confirmed for the show’s new West End dates, although the company will feature Mark Wignett, best known for his eight-year stint as PC Jim Carver in The Bill, as the policeman. The comedy has previously featured Louise Jameson and Bradley Walsh.

While its run at the Duke of York’s will mark its official West End premiere, Tom, Dick and Harry has previously been seen in London’s theatreland. In August 2003, ahead of its season at Windsor, Cooney held a special one-off rehearsed reading at the West End’s Playhouse, which was attended by 100 Whatsonstage.com theatregoers who provided post-performance feedback for the show’s development.

Ray Cooney is well known for stage hits such as Run for Your Wife!, Out of Order, Funny Money, Caught in the Net and It Runs in the Family as well as early collaborations with Brian Rix at the Whitehall Theatre. In the New Year Honours List this past January, he received an OBE. Tom, Dick and Harry marks the first time that he has worked with his son, screenwriter Michael Cooney whose credits include Identity and Murder in Mind. Later this year, the playwright is also hoping to present his first musical Time’s Up, in the West End. As with Tom, Dick and Harry, the show was developed with the help of Whatsonstage.com theatregoers this past January (See The Goss, 6 Jan 2005).

Speaking to Whatsonstage.com this week, Cooney commented on Tom, Dick and Harry’s transfer: “I am absolutely thrilled…. It is great to have a West End run, and the fact I wrote this one with my son makes it all the more special to me.” He added: “I have tried to make it as modern as possible. I think the issue of illegal immigrants is a very contemporary problem. But it is very light-hearted and I think audiences will enjoy it…. It is typical Cooney madness.”

Currently at the Duke of York’s, Richard Eyre’s Eve Best-led production of Hedda Gabler, which transferred from the Almeida Theatre last month (See News, 8 Apr 2005), is scheduled to finish its limited season on 6 August 2005.

- by Caroline Ansdell