Chichester Festival Theatre have announced their 2019 season, which is to include powerful new writing, two musicals, and a brand new family-friendly production. The season will be accompanied by talks, events and workshops for people of all ages, allowing them to engage with the works further, offstage.
THIS IS MY FAMILY –
“A perfect family these days is hard to find”.
Winner of the 2013 UK Theatre Award for Best Musical, ‘This Is My Family’, a hilarious musical comedy with book, lyrics and music by award-winning writer Tim Firth (Calender Girls), celebrates the lifelong adventure that is family love.
‘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?’
Directed by Artistic Director Daniel Evans (Flowers for Mrs Harris, Fiddler on the Roof, Quiz), the musical will star James Nesbitt (Cold Feet, The Missing) in his Chichester debut, opposite Sheila Hancock, who makes a welcome return to the theatre. They are joined by Clare Burt, Kirsty MacLaren, Rachel Lumberg and Scott Folan.
‘This Is My Family’ will run at the Minerva Theatre from 20th April to 15th June.
“Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn fast”.
‘Shadowlands’ won the Evening Standard Award for Best Play for its West End premiere in 1989, and was nominated for a Tony Award for its subsequent Broadway run.
‘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’.
Written by William Nicholson and directed by Rachel Kavanaugh (Single Spies, Half A Sixpence, The Winslow Boy), the production will star Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) as C. S. Lewis.
‘Shadowlands’ will run at the Festival Theatre from 26th April to 25th May.
“Those of us who went through this kind of war, I do think we have something in common”.
Kate Hewitt directs David Hare’s modern classic ‘Plenty’, which will star Rachael Stirling as Susan Traherne.
‘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’.
‘Plenty’ will run at the Festival Theatre from 7th to 29th June.
THE DEEP BLUE SEA –
“Don’t leave me alone tonight”.
Paul Foster (Kiss Me Kate) directs Terence Rattigan’s ‘The Deep Blue Sea’. The production will star Olivier– and Evening Standard Award-winning Nancy Carroll, alongside Hadley Fraser and Gerald Kyd.
‘1951. 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’.
‘The Deep Blue Sea’ will run at the Minerva Theatre from 21st June to 27th July.
“I ain’t sayin’ I’m no better than anybody else, but I’ll be damned if I ain’t just as good!”
Chichester Festival Theatre presents Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Oklahoma!’, whose glorious score includes the songs ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ ’, ‘The Surrey with the Fringe on Top’, and the show-stopper ‘Oklahoma’. The musical will be directed by Jeremy Sams, and will feature set design by Robert Jones and choreography is by Matt Cole, whose recent work includes ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ at the Menier Chocolate Factory and in the West End.
‘Handsome cowboy Curly McLain is head over spurs for 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’.
The production will star Josie Lawrence as Aunt Eller, Hyoie O’Grady as Curly and Amara Okereke as Laurey.
‘Oklahoma!’ runs at the Festival Theatre from 15th July to 7th September.
8 HOTELS –
“Iago only suspected it. I know”.
Nicholas Wright’s new play ‘8 Hotels’, based on true events, involves some of the 20th century’s most influential American artists. The production will be directed by Richard Eyre.
‘1944. 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’.
‘8 Hotels’ will run at the Minerva Theatre from 1st to 24th August.
CROSSING LINES –
“Lend us your ears”.
Chichester Festival Youth Theatre presents ‘Crossing Lines’, a new play by Anna Ledwich, with direction by Daniel Hill.
‘1918. A West Sussex city. A celebration of a war hard won. A community dances, drinks and gives thanks for a narrow escape.
1941. Under the shadow of invasion, the city’s young are offered up once more to a conflict on foreign soil.
2019. 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?’
Dates for the show’s run are yet to be confirmed, though August is listed.
HEDDA TESMAN –
“There’s no such thing as starting again”.
Cordelia Lynn’s ‘Hedda Tesman’ breathes new life into Henrik Ibsen’s ‘Hedda Gabler’, asking ‘what we inherit, what we endure, and how we carry our history’.
‘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’.
Holly Race Roughan directs this ‘vital exploration of motherhood, power and sabotage’.
‘Hedda Tesman’ will run at the Minerva Theatre from 30th August to 28th September.
“Present fears are less than horrible imaginings”.
Paul Miller, Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, directs William Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ for Chichester 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’.
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). He stars opposite Dervla Kirwan’s Lady Macbeth. Kirwan’s recent 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 Simm.
‘Macbeth’ will run at the Festival Theatre from 21st September to 26th October.
SING YER HEART OUT FOR THE LADS –
“You know me, I ain’t got a problem with nobody”.
Roy Williams’ funny yet disturbing play looks at what it means to be black, white and English in 21st century Britain. The play will be directed by Nicole Williams, whose recent work includes ‘Emilia’ at Shakespeare’s Globe and in the West End.
‘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’.
The production will be performed in The Spiegeltent, which will be transformed into a pub setting to create an immersive theatrical experience.
‘Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads’ will run from 5th October to 2nd November.
THE BUTTERFLY LION –
“Remember me? Remember Africa?”
Anna Ledwich adapts Michael Morpurgo’s best-selling novel ‘The Butterfly Lion’ for the stage, which ‘combines music, design and puppetry to bring a magical adventure to life, celebrating nature, friendship and the triumph of love’.
‘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’ will run at the Minerva Theatre from 5th October to 9th November.
THE WIZARD OF OZ –
“I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”.
Chichester Festival Youth Theatre presents L. Frank Baum’s, ‘The Wizard of Oz’.
Originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, this faithful adaptation of the beloved classic 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’.
‘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’.
The production will be directed by Lucy Betts, and features music and lyrics from the MGM motion picture score by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, background music by Herbert Stothart and dance and vocal arrangement by Peter Howard. The production was adapted for the stage by John Kane, from the motion picture screenplay.
‘The Wizard of Oz’ will run at the Festival Theatre from 14th to 29th December.