Festival 2014 Chichester
From compelling dramas to musicals Charlotte Pearson finds out more about Chichester Festival Theatre’s new season.
From gamblers in New York to a musical based on the life of a burlesque performer forget Broadway and the West End, Chichester Festival Theatre (CFT) is the place to be this year.
Festival 2014 is a landmark season in CFT’s 52 year history as this summer marks the reopening on the newly refurbished theatre following a £22 million redevelopment.
“We’re immensely proud of our new theatre and of the season that celebrates our year of transformation, as great writers, great directors and great performers are at the heart of what we do,” artistic director Jonathan Church enthuses.
“This achievement has only been made possible because of the commitment and support of our audiences, individual donors, stakeholders and businesses, as well as Arts Council England, West Sussex County Council and Chichester District Council.
“We’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone as we look forward to welcoming our audiences back to the Festival Theatre,” executive director Alan Finch adds.
And that is not all as it has also announced one of the most exciting festival line ups this year.
The first production to be performed will be Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, directed by Jonathan Church with Rupert Everett as Salieri.
Other leading actors set to tread the boards during the festival include Dervla Kirwan in Frankie & Johnny in the Claire de Lune, Patricia Routledge in Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, Downton Abbey’s Penelope Wilton in Taken at Midnight and David Haig in Pressure.
Following the success of previous CFT musicals – Sweeney Todd and Singin’ in the Rain both went on to the West End – the theatre will be welcoming two major Broadway musicals.
In August Guys and Dolls will be the first musical staged in the Festival Theatre following its reopening.
Based on colourful stories about New York gamblers by Damon Runyon, the production will be directed by Gordon Greenberg, and choreographed by Cuban-born British ballet dancer Carlos Acosta, one of the leading dancers of his generation.
The cast features Clare Foster as Sarah Brown, Jamie Parker as Sky Masterson, Peter Polycarpou as Nathan Detroit and Sophie Thompson as Miss Adelaide.
Stephen Sondheim’s Gypsy will open in the autumn led by Imelda Staunton as Mama Rose.
She is joined by Lara Pulver, who you may recognise from Spooks and Sherlock, and Kevin Whately, best known as TV’s Lewis to John Thaw’s Morse, who makes his Chichester debut as Herbie.
Based on the memoirs of burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee, it is considered by many to be the greatest Broadway musical.
“I’m thrilled to present a programme distinguished by the finest dramatic writing, with new plays standing front and centre of our season,” Jonathan says.
“Of course, both our audiences and the artists that work at Chichester are integral to our success and I look forward to renewing and strengthening our relationships with them during the important year ahead.”
And the theatre plans to end the year in style with the Chichester’s Youth Theatre performing a new adaptation of Dodie Smith’s much-loved The Hundred and One Dalmatians.
It is written by Bryon Lavery, who also wrote the adaptation of The Snow Queen performed by Chichester’s Youth Theatre in 2009. Her other credits include Beautiful Burnout, the award-winning Frozen, Stockholm and Kursk.
With so much on offer and something for everyone forget London and New York and head to Chichester.
For more information or to book tickets, call 01243 781312 or visit www.cft.org.uk
16 – 25s Ticket Scheme
An allocation of tickets priced at just £8.50 are available for 16 to 25 year olds for all performances in both the Festival and Minerva Theatres. These will be available one month before each production opens. cft.org.uk/850
April 24, 2014 Culture and Events