Maureen Lipman (pictured) is to star in her daughter Amy Rosenthal's first full-length stage play Sitting Pretty. The production, which Lipman has previously performed in at short notice in New York, opens at Southampton's Nuffield on 6 September 2001 ahead of a regional tour that continues to another four venues until 27 October.

The story concerns a redundant woman in her fifties, who stumbles across a life-drawing class. What starts out as a hobby for the woman, soon turns out to provide her with a whole new lease of life. Attempting to dispel the notion that growing older means giving up, the play also contains nudity within its context.

March 2001 found a version of Sitting Pretty playing Off Broadway at the Hypothetical Theatre Company's home. When the original leading lady, Tanny McDonald, was unable to complete the run, director Amy Feinberg sent for Lipman in preference to the understudy. Lipman had five days to learn the script, fly to New York and get clearance with American Equity - an overall experience she likened to being "kicked by a bison".

Maureen Lipman studied at LAMDA and made her acting debut in The Knack in 1969. Her other recent theatre credits include Oklahoma! (Royal National Theatre), See How They Run (Shaftesbury), Peggy for You (Hampstead and Comedy) and Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues (New Ambassadors). Her television and film career has taken in Absurd Person Singular, Love's Labour's Lost and Cold Enough for Snow. Lipman, who was awarded a CBE in 1999, is also the author of several books including How Was It For You?.

Lipman's daughter Amy (whose father is Lipman's playwright husband Jack Rosenthal) is a writer-in-residence at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre.

Also appearing in Sitting Pretty is the South African actress Aviva Jane Carlin. A graduate in drama from London University and the Drama Studio, Carlin is a member of the award-winning Theatre Impact company. Her own solo show, Jodie's Body, is also set in a live art class.

Sitting Pretty is directed by John Doyle and will continue its tour in Sheffield, Richmond, Guildford and Bath.

- by Gareth Thompson