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Seinfeld Star Leads Arsenic Home to Strand, 25 Feb

By • West End
Classic black comedy Arsenic and Old Lace will return to the West End's Strand Theatre, more than 60 years after it was first seen there. The revival, presented by Katherine Dore, was originally touted for a summer 2002 opening but was delayed due to casting complications (See The Goss, 16 May 2002). It will now open on 25 February 2003 (previews from 14 February), with an all-star cast featuring American Michael Richards of Seinfeld fame as well as Brits Stephen Tompkinson, Marcia Warren and Thelma Barlow.

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.

Richards is best known from the long-running American sitcom Seinfeld in which he played the comedian's eccentric neighbour Kramer. His other screen credits include London Suite, Air Heads, So I Married an Axe Murderer and, on television, the eponymous Michael Richards Show.

Tompkinson is a familiar face from British TV series such as Ballykissangel, Drop the Dead Donkey, Ted and Alice and Bedtime. His film credits include Brassed Off, Tabloid TV and Hotel Splendide, while on stage, he's appeared in Art and Love's Labours Lost.

Barlow is also best-known for her television work in the likes of Dinnerladies and, most notably, as Mavis from Coronation Street. Her recent stage credits include Smoking with Lulu, Blythe Spirit, Enjoy and The Cherry Orchard. Warren won this year's Best Supporting Actress Olivier for her role in Charlotte Jones' Humble Boy, while her other credits include Aunty and Me, The Lady in the Van, In Flame and Nude with Violin.

Arsenic and Old Lace will be directed by Matthew Francis and designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis.

- by Terri Paddock


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