The Chichester Festival Theatre has announced its new 2011 season, including a major celebration of the work of Terence Rattigan and three new productions of classic musicals.

High-profile directors include Trevor Nunn, Max Stafford-Clark, Jonathan Church, Philip Franks and Sean Mathias.

Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton to star in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.

Sir Ian McKellen returns to Chichester to star alongside Michael Pennington in The Syndicate.

Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton to star in Sweeney Todd

Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton to star in Sweeney Todd

Chichester Festival Theatre has announced its new 2011 season, starting on 9 May. Artistic Director Jonathan Church has put together an impressive slate of new productions, attracting major directors and stellar acting talent to cover both drama and musicals.

Three big musicals will be revived this year, following Chichester’s 2010 stage version of famous film weepy Love Story, which is currently playing at the Duchess Theatre in London. The season kicks off with Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s She Loves Me (from 9 May), starring Joe McFadden and Dianne Pilkington, and directed and choreographed by Stephen Mear. The show was last seen in the West End in 1994 starring Ruthie Henshall, John Gordon Sinclair and Tracie Bennett.

From 27 June, MGM musical Singin’ in the Rain gets a brand new production by Jonathan Church, starring Adam Cooper, Daniel Crossley and Scarlett Strallen. The musical trio is completed at the end of the season by the much talked-about and anticipated new production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd (from 24 September), directed by Jonathan Kent and starring Michael Ball in the title role and Imelda Staunton as Mrs Lovett.

Max Stafford Clark returns to Top Girls

Max Stafford Clark returns to Top Girls

The festival will also celebrate the work of Terence Rattigan with a mini season of productions, timed to coincide with the playwright’s centenary year in 2011. Shows include The Deep Blue Sea (from 13 July) directed by Philip Franks; and The Browning Version (from 2 September) directed by Angus Jackson, alongside the world premiere of a new one-act play by David Hare, South Downs, directed by Jeremy Herrin and commissioned by the Rattigan Trust as a response to The Browning Version. Also Nicholas Wright’s new play Rattigan’s Nijinsky, based on a screenplay by Rattigan, will get a world premiere from 19 July  directed by Philip Franks; and from 31 July the festival will hold a series of rehearsed readings of some of Rattigan’s lesser-known plays, including First Episode,  Adventure Story, Variation On A Theme, Heart To Heart and Harlequinade, plus In Praise Of Rattigan, devised by Jack Tinker and Martin Tickner and directed and featuring Penelope Keith.

Other new productions include Trevor Nunn following his spring production of Rattigan’s Flare Path in the West End, by directing Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (from 20 May); Max Stafford-Clark and his Out of Joint theatre company join forces with Chichester to revisit Caryl Churchill’s 1982 play Top Girls (from 23 June); and Sir Ian McKellen stars in a new version of Eduardo De Filippo’s The Syndicate (from 21 July), also starring Michael Pennington and directed by Sean Mathias.

LINKS

Chichester Festival Theatre website

Video: Sweeney Todd – Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton on The Michael Ball Show