We’re always excited when Chichester Festival Theatre announce their new season and this year’s mix of classics, new plays and musicals is no exception. Don’t take our word for it though, read on to find out more…
Daniel Evans said: ‘Festival 2019 continues our aim of giving audiences the breadth of work they expect and relish. We’re premiering four plays: two by our new Writer-in-Residence, Anna Ledwich, including a brand new adaptation of one of Michael Morpurgo’s own favourite books, The Butterfly Lion; Nicholas Wright’s fascinating 8 Hotels, which examines the political repercussions of private passions; and we’re delighted to be partnering with Headlong and The Lowry on Cordelia Lynn’s Hedda Tesman.
‘These, and our array of revivals and musicals, will be brought to life by an outstanding company of actors. Our directors include Nicole Charles, Kate Hewitt and Holly Race Roughan, all bright stars at the start of their careers, alongside the welcome Chichester debuts of Paul Foster and Paul Miller.
‘October will see the installation of The Spiegeltent, providing an immersive setting for Roy Williams’s Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads, as well as an exciting range of events for all tastes. Chichester Festival Youth Theatre promenade a new play by Anna Ledwich through the streets of Chichester; and our ongoing Ageless campaign aims to ensure that theatre and live art remain at the heart of people’s lives, whatever their age and circumstance.
‘Our new Executive Director, Kathy Bourne, joins us in May; we both look forwa rd to welcoming audiences to Festival 2019.’
FESTIVAL 2019 PRODUCTIONS – APRIL TO OCTOBER
THIS IS MY FAMILY A musical by Tim Firth Directed by Daniel Evans 20 April – 15 June, Minerva Theatre
Imagine you’re a spirited 13-year-old and you’ve won – actually won – a magazine competition to describe your family. The prize is a dream holiday for the lot of you, anywhere in the world.
Except… Nicky’s family isn’t the blissfully happy bunch she’s described. More like the contestants in a gladiatorial arena, in fact. Where on earth can she take them that might make her wishful thinking a reality?
Winner of the 2013 UK Theatre Award for Best Musical, this hilarious musical comedy, which moves seamlessly between speech and song, is a celebration of the lifelong adventure that is family love.
Book, lyrics and music are by Tim Firth, the award-winning writer of many celebrated hits including Calendar Girls and Neville’s Island at Chichester. This is My Family is his first original solo musical. The production is directed by Artistic Director Daniel Evans whose previous work at Chichester includes Me and My Girl and Flowers for Mrs Harris (2018), Fiddler on the Roof and Quiz (2017).
James Nesbitt (Cold Feet, The Missing) makes his Chichester debut whilst Sheila Hancock makes a welcome return; her more recent work includes Sister Act in the West End. Clare Burt also returns to Chichester following her acclaimed performance in Flowers
for Mrs Harris (2018). They are joined by Kirsty MacLaren, Rachel Lumberg and Scott Folan.
This Is My Family will be designed by Richard Kent, with musical supervision, musical direction and orchestrations by Caroline Humphris, lighting by David Plater, sound by Paul Arditti and movement by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille.
SHADOWLANDS by William Nicholson Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh 26 April – 25 May, Festival Theatre
Celebrated writer C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, splits his time between an ordered domestic routine at home with his brother, Warnie, and the academic rigour of his dispassionate, all-male Oxford college.
His evenings are spent replying to his many correspondents. One stands out: vivid, expressive, New York poet Joy Gresham. When she arrives in England with her young son, Douglas, everything Lewis believed to be true about life and love is thrown into question. And a relationship begins which will take them both to the extremities of pain and joy.
William Nicholson’s much-loved play premiered in the West End in 1989, winning the Evening Standard Award for Best Play and being nominated for a Tony Award on its subsequent Broadway run. Originally a 1985 television drama, it became a feature film in 1993.
Hugh Bonneville returns to Chichester to play Lewis, following his acclaimed performance in An Enemy of the People (2016). His many television and film appearances include Downton Abbey, W1A and Paddington.
Director Rachel Kavanaugh also returns to Chichester where her many productions include Single Spies and Half A Sixpence (2016) and The Winslow Boy (2017).
Shadowlands will be designed by Peter McKintosh, with lighting by Howard Harrison, music by Catherine Jayes and sound by Fergus O’Hare.
PLENTY by David Hare Directed by Kate Hewitt 7 – 29 June, Festival Theatre
Susan Traherne is a former secret agent. Her heroic work with the Special Operations Executive in Nazi-occupied France brought her extremes of danger, as well as adventures and romance.
Twenty years on she is living a very different existence in London, as the wealthy wife of a diplomat. Her strained marriage and altered circumstances have threatened her identity and trapped her in a destructive nostalgia for her wartime idealism.
In a post-war land of plenty, Susan battles for her own body and mind, as Britain loses its role in the world.
Using a non-linear structure, the drama dips backwards and forwards in time to explore how the past and present coexist.
On its first appearance at the National Theatre in 1978, David Hare’s play caused a furore and is now accepted as a modern classic. His previous plays for Chichester include South Downs (2011) and Young Chekhov (2015).
Kate Hewitt directs, following her acclaimed production of Cock (Festival 2018). Her productions also include Frost/Nixon at Sheffield and Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train at the Young Vic.
Rachael Stirling plays Susan Traherne; her recent work includes Medea (Headlong) and The Winter’s Tale (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse), and The Bletchley Circle and Detectorists on television.
Plenty will be designed by Georgia Lowe.
THE DEEP BLUE SEA by Terence Rattigan Directed by Paul Foster 21 June – 27 July, Minerva Theatre
- In a shabby Ladbroke Grove flat, Hester Collyer’s neighbours find her unconscious; she has taken an overdose in front of the gas fire. Their only option is to notify her husband – a pillar of the establishment.
But Hester left her husband the previous year to embark upon a passionate love affair with dashing ex-RAF pilot, Freddie Page. What has happened in her life to make her want to end it? And can she bring herself to go on living?
This searing play takes place over the course of one day, in one room, and offers a devastating examination of the adverse forces of love and solitude. Rattigan based the play in part on the tragic outcome of his own clandestine love affair and created one of the twentieth century’s finest leading roles for a woman.
Paul Foster’s recent directing credits include A Little Night Music at the Watermill and Kiss Me, Kate at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.
Nancy Carroll (Hester Collyer) received the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Actress for Rattigan’s After the Dance at the National Theatre; her recent work includes The Moderate Soprano (West End), Closer (Donmar Warehouse) and Father Brown on television.
Hadley Fraser (Freddie Page) last appeared at Chichester in The Pajama Game (2013); his recent stage credits include Saint Joan (Donmar Warehouse). Gerald Kyd (Sir William Collyer) appeared at Chichester in The Meeting (2018); his National Theatre work includes Three Winters.
The Deep Blue Sea will be designed by Peter McKintosh with lighting by Natasha Chivers, music by Debbie Wiseman and sound by George Dennis.
OKLAHOMA! Music by Richard Rodgers Book & Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II Based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs Original choreography by Agnes de Mille Directed by Jeremy Sams 15 July – 7 September, Festival Theatre
Handsome cowboy Curly McLain is head over spurs for local farm owner Laurey Williams. But lonely ranch-hand Jud Fry has his sinister sights set on her too.
And Laurey’s not the only girl with cowboy problems. Ado Annie’s beau Will Parker is back from chasing steers in Kansas City, where he won the fifty dollars her father insists Will must have to marry her. But this irrepressible farm girl won’t be bought quite so easily.
Luckily for this love-struck crew of spirited ranchers and bronco busters, wise Aunt Eller is riding ahead of the herd.
With its glorious score and spirit of exuberant optimism, Oklahoma! is the American musical by which all others are judged. Rodgers and Hammerstein broke new ground in perfectly integrating music and dance to tell a story whose darker undercurrents never overwhelm its rapturous vitality. Among the unforgettable songs are Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’, The Surrey With The Fringe On Top and the show-stopper Oklahoma.
Jeremy Sams returns to Chichester to direct; his award-winning productions in London and New York include The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Noises Off and Spend, Spend, Spend. Set designs are by Robert Jones whose extensive work at Chichester includes Mack & Mabel and Kiss Me, Kate. Choreography is by Matt Cole whose recent work includes Fiddler on the Roof at the Menier Chocolate Factory and in the West End.
Josie Lawrence, whose stage work ranges from Shakespeare at the RSC and Globe to The King and I in the West End, plays Aunt Eller. Her extensive television credits include Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Humans and Outside Edge, and she makes regular appearances at the Comedy Store.
Hyoie O’Grady plays Curly; he recently played Enroljas in Les Misérables in the West End, having graduated from London’s Mountview Academy of Arts last year.
Also making her Chichester debut, as Laurey, is Amara Okereke, winner of the 2018 Stage Debut Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Cosette in Les Misérables.
Costume designs are by Brigitte Reiffenstuel, with musical supervision, musical direction and dance arrangements by Nigel Lilley, orchestrations by David Cullen, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Paul Groothuis.
There will be a Relaxed performance of Oklahoma! on 29 August at 2.30pm, especially suitable for individuals, groups and families with children on the autism spectrum, sensory and communication disorders or anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed theatre environment.
8 HOTELS A new play by Nicholas Wright Directed by Richard Eyre 1 – 24 August, Minerva Theatre
- America. Celebrated actor, singer and political campaigner Paul Robeson – forever associated with ‘Ol’ Man River’ – is touring the country as the eponymous hero in Shakespeare’s Othello. His Desdemona is the brilliant young actress Uta Hagen. Her husband, the Broadway star José Ferrer, plays Iago.
All the actors are friends. But in mid-century American society, they are not all equals.
As the tour goes on, the boundaries between the onstage passions and their offstage lives begin to blur. Soon the chemistry between Robeson and Hagen and the rivalry between Robeson and Ferrer is every bit as dangerous as that between their famous characters. Revenge takes many forms and in post-war America it isn’t always purely personal – it can be disturbingly political too.
Nicholas Wright’s new play is based on true events involving some of the twentieth century’s most influential American artists. His original plays include Rattigan’s Nijinsky (Festival 2011) and, for the National Theatre, Mrs Klein, Vincent in Brixton (Olivier Award for Best New Play) and The Reporter, both directed by Richard Eyre.
Director Richard Eyre makes a welcome return to Chichester, following The Stepmother (2017). A former Director of the National Theatre, his recent films include King Lear and The Children Act.
The production will be designed by Rob Howell, with lighting by Peter Mumford and sound by John Leonard.
Chichester Festival Youth Theatre CROSSING LINES A new play by Anna Ledwich Directed by Daniel Hill August, Promenade
- A West Sussex city. A celebration of a war hard won. A community dances, drinks and gives thanks for a narrow escape.
- Under the shadow of invasion, the city’s young are offered up once more to a conflict on foreign soil.
- The same city and a new threat is looming. Borders are collapsing. Communities uprooted. People are on the move. There is only one route to safety and only one means of communication, via the airwaves… but can they be trusted?
Three stories connect across time and across technologies as history haunts the present and secrets are unearthed by a community in turmoil. Using digital technology and live action, this promenade performance through the streets of Chichester asks: can an individual alter history by changing the channel?
Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s renowned biennial outdoor productions include Grimm Tales (2017) and the award-winning Running Wild (2015).
CFT’s new Writer-in-Residence, Anna Ledwich adapted Beauty and the Beast for CFYT in 2017 and was co-Artistic Director of Theatre on the Fly at Chichester in 2012. Director Daniel Hill has devised and directed over 40 productions for young people, including promenade productions of Alice’s Adventures and Wind in the Willows.
Recommended for ages 7+. Performance dates will be announced in May.
Crossing Lines will be designed by Ryan Dawson Laight, with sound and music by David Lewington and movement by Zoie Golding.
HEDDA TESMAN By Cordelia Lynn After Henrik Ibsen Directed by Holly Race Roughan A co-production with Headlong and The Lowry 30 August – 28 September, Minerva Theatre
A doting husband. A troubled writer. A loaded gun. It’s 2019 and Hedda Tesman returns to a life she can’t seem to escape.
After thirty years of playing wife, Hedda is bitter and bored. When her estranged daughter, Thea, suddenly reappears asking for help, the present begins to echo the past and Hedda embarks on a path of destruction.
Cordelia Lynn’s Hedda Tesman breathes new life into Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, asking what we inherit, what we endure and how we carry our history. Holly Race Roughan directs this vital exploration of motherhood, power and sabotage.
Cordelia Lynn was the recipient of the 2017 Harold Pinter Commission. Her works includes One for Sorrow and Lela and Co for the Royal Court and the libretto for Miranda at the Opéra Comique, Paris. Her plays Best Served Cold (Vaults Festival) and Believers Anonymous (Rosemary Branch) were both directed by Holly Race Roughan.
Hedda Tesman will be designed by Anna Fleischle.
This Headlong co-production will play at The Lowry, Salford for three weeks, immediately following the Chichester run.
MACBETH by William Shakespeare Directed by Paul Miller 21 September – 26 October, Festival Theatre
Much celebrated for his forthright bravery, Macbeth is a state hero. After the bloody defeat of a rebel army, he encounters a trio of strangers who predict that one day he will be King. Having delivered their ambiguous message, they vanish, leaving a mind cracked open.
Fearing that her husband lacks the vital drive to take charge of his fate, Lady Macbeth invokes her stronger nature to fulfil their destiny. The plan she hatches will trigger an uncontrollable train of events, hurtling two corrupted souls to the heart of darkness.
In this contemporary production, Shakespeare’s great tragedy shows ambition falling headlong into tyranny and chaos. As appearances increasingly deceive, the nature of reality itself comes into question.
Paul Miller is Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond. He was previously Associate Director at Sheffield Theatres, where his productions included John Simm’s Hamlet.
John Simm makes his Chichester debut in the title role. Among his extensive screen and stage work, recent credits include Strangers, Collateral and Doctor Who on television, and Pinter at the Pinter: Six (West End).
Dervla Kirwan plays Lady Macbeth. Her stage work includes Goneril in King Lear (2017), Frankie and Johnny (2014) and Uncle Vanya (2012) at Chichester and, most recently, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (Young Vic). She also appeared in Strangers alongside John Simm.
Macbeth will be designed by Simon Daw, with lighting by Mark Doubleday.
SING YER HEART OUT FOR THE LADS by Roy Williams Directed by Nicole Charles 5 October – 2 November, The Spiegeltent
Saturday 7 October. Gina, landlady of The King George pub, has a lot on her plate. The England vs Germany World Cup qualifying match is about to start, the pub football team is about to charge in and the TV’s on the blink.
Over the next few hours, national defeat looms and xenophobic tensions rise, fuelled by the inarticulate fury of the pub team captain, Lawrie, and the insidious propaganda of right-wing extremist Alan. And while policeman Lee struggles to keep the peace, disillusioned squaddie Mark and Gina’s bullied son Glen are fighting their own demons.
Premiered at the National Theatre in 2002, Roy Williams’s ferocious, funny and disturbing play takes aim at what it means to be black, white and English in twenty-first century Britain. Scoring high on foul language, threat and vulgar humour, Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Roy Williams’s award-winning plays have also been staged at the RSC and the Royal Court. Nicole Charles’s recent work includes Emilia at Shakespeare’s Globe and in the West End.
Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads will be performed in The Spiegeltent, which will be transformed into a pub setting to create an immersive theatrical experience.
Please note this play contains extremely strong language that some people may find upsetting. Recommended for ages 16+
THE BUTTERFLY LION By Michael Morpurgo A new adaptation by Anna Ledwich Directed by Dale Rooks 5 October – 9 November, Minerva Theatre
When Bertie is sent away from the African farm of his childhood to school in England, he leaves behind not only his beloved mother and the beautiful land, swarming with wildlife, but also his best friend – a white lion he rescued as a cub.
Bertie’s struggle to adjust to his new life in harsh, grey England is alleviated only by a chance friendship with the equally lonely Millie and his dreams of his treasured lion, now trapped in a French circus. But their remarkable journey is only just beginning, and the pair are destined to meet again.
The Butterfly Lion combines music, design and puppetry to bring a magical adventure to life: celebrating nature, friendship and the triumph of love.
Based on Michael Morpurgo’s best-selling novel, which won the Smarties Prize and the Writers’ Guild Award, this new stage adaptation is written by CFT’s Writer-in-Residence Anna Ledwich and directed by Dale Rooks whose many Chichester productions include The Midnight Gang (2018) and Running Wild (2015).
Recommended for ages 7+.
The Butterfly Lion will be designed by Simon Higlett, with music by Tom Brady, movement by Naomi Said, puppetry by Nick Barnes and additional music by Luyanda Lennox Jezile.
Chichester Festival Youth Theatre THE WIZARD OF OZ by L. Frank Baum With Music and Lyrics of the MGM motion picture score by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg Background music by Herbert Stothart Dance and vocal arrangements by Peter Howard Adapted by John Kane from the motion picture screenplay Directed by Lucy Betts 14 – 29 December, Festival Theatre
When Dorothy runs away from her home in Kansas with her faithful dog Toto, she’s caught up in a terrifying cyclone and finds herself in the strange and magical land of Oz.
There she encounters a host of curious and enchanting characters. Accompanied by a Scarecrow, a Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion, can Dorothy escape the Wicked Witch of the West, reach the Emerald City and find the mysterious Wizard of Oz?
Don your ruby slippers and join Chichester Festival Youth Theatre as they journey along the yellow brick road in a wonderful adventure for all the family.
This faithful adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s classic novel was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and features all the beloved songs from the 1939 classic film, including Over the Rainbow, If I Only Had a Brain and We’re Off To See The Wizard.
Lucy Betts, who directed 2018’s Sleeping Beauty, takes the reins again for another stunning festive production from the remarkable CFYT.
Recommended for ages 7+. There will be a Relaxed performance of The Wizard of Oz on 27 December at 2pm.
The set will be designed by Simon Higlett, with costumes by Ryan Dawson Laight, lighting by James Whiteside and sound by Gregory Clarke.
FESTIVAL 2019 EVENTS A programme of talks and activities will offer extra insight into Festival 2019. Highlights include talks with Tim Firth, Sheila Hancock and Roy Williams; a centenary celebration of Iris Murdoch; and a literary lunch with Daniel Rosenthal discussing his collection of letters from the National Theatre archive. Sweatbox: A Prison Van in Motion is an immersive theatre experience offering a unique insight into the criminal justice system, performed by members of Clean Break.
Family friendly events range from Michael Morpurgo and Virginia McKenna reading extracts from The Butterfly Lion to community singalong Oh What A Beautiful Mornin’, and workshops for young people inspired by C.S. Lewis and Macbeth.
Kate Mosse hosts a full programme of Pre- and Post-Show Discussions on each production.
THE SPIEGELTENT In October 2019, a Spiegeltent will be installed next to the Festival Theatre on Oaklands Park – a unique venue with its own personality, style and atmosphere. As well as providing an immersive experience for Roy Williams’s Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads, it will play host to an eclectic mix of cabaret, music and special events: from a comedy club and drag night, to a quiz, a Prologue scratch night and the annual Fun Palaces celebration on 6 October. The full programme will be announced in May.
Priority booking for Friends of Chichester Festival Theatre opens: Saturday 23 February (online and booking forms only) Wednesday 27 February (phone and in person)
Booking for Groups and Schools opens: Thursday 28 February
General booking opens: Saturday 2 March (online only) Tuesday 5 March (phone and in person)
Booking for Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads and Crossing Lines opens: Friends and Supporters: Friday 31 May General: Saturday 1 June Full details to be announced.
cft.org.uk Box Office 01243 781312 Tickets from £10
Prologue: £5 tickets for 16 – 25s Over 10,000 £5 tickets are available for 16 to 25 year-olds for all productions throughout Festival 2019; sign up for free at cft.org.uk/prologue. Members also have access to a range of exclusive events.