A CLASSIC play which became an instant hit when it opened on Broadway over 80 years ago is taking centre stage in Keighley.

Arsenic and Old Lace is the second production of the season at Keighley Playhouse.

The play proved to be just what New Yorkers were looking for in 1941, when they were desperate for entertainment to take their minds off the war in Europe and the growing fear that America would be drawn into the conflict.

Following its opening on January 10, the black comedy – penned by Joseph Kesselring – immediately became a critical and popular success and it clocked up 1,444 performances on Broadway.

It was also a hit when it opened to audiences in England the following year, with theatregoers – who were suffering the traumas of post-blitz London – lining up for tickets.

In 1944, Hollywood produced a film version of Arsenic and Old Lace starring Cary Grant which was also a massive success.

A spokesperson for Keighley Playhouse says: "The play, a clever combination of the farcical and the macabre, centres on two elderly sisters who are famous in their Brooklyn neighbourhood for their numerous acts of charity.

"Unfortunately, however, their charity includes poisoning lonely old men who come to their home looking for lodgings.

"The two women are assisted in their crimes by their mentally challenged nephew, who believes he is Teddy Roosevelt and frequently blasts a bugle and yells 'charge' as he bounds up the stairs.

"Matters get complicated when a second nephew, a theatre critic, discovers the murders and a third nephew appears after having just escaped from a mental institution.

"In his adroit mixture of comedy and mayhem, Kesselring satirises the charitable impulse as he pokes fun at the conventions of the theatre."

The playhouse has a new director, Dale Chadwick, who is also playing a leading part in the production.

But he is no newcomer to the Devonshire Street theatre, having played numerous roles in past productions.

The 13-strong cast is led by Pauline Ashworth and Katharine Hickman, who play the two elderly sisters.

Arsenic and Old Lace runs from Monday, October 24, to Saturday, October 29.

Performances begin at 7.30pm.

For ticket details and further information about Keighley Playhouse, go to its website at keighleyplayhouse.co.uk.

Seats can be booked by calling the box office on 07599 890769. Payments may be made by credit or debit card.