Following its highly successful Festival 2011, Chichester Festival Theatre’s Winter season features distinguished actors, award-winning companies, and acclaimed writers and directors. High quality drama remains at the heart of the season, and there is also opera, dance, comedy, music and shows for children and young people, including an enchanting adaptation of a classic story for Christmas.

One of Alan Bennett’s biggest successes, THE MADNESS OF GEORGE III, plays in the Festival Theatre from 14 – 19 November. This epic production weaves drama, politics and humour into a vivid portrait of English history. David Haig plays the title role, returning to the Festival Theatre following his highly praised performance in Festival 2010’s Yes, Prime Minister. The production is directed by Christopher Luscombe and the cast also includes Clive Francis, Beatie Edney and Madhav Sharma.

Opening the season in the Minerva Theatre from 1 – 5 November is THE WILD BRIDE, the new production by Kneehigh on Tour. This follows their sell-out production of The Red Shoes in 2010. The company combines inventive storytelling with humour and music to tell the tale of a heroine forced into the wilderness after being sold to the Devil.

Also returning to the Minerva Theatre from 15 – 26 November are Frantic Assembly, who showcase their stunning physicality in LOVESONG, a play which intertwines a couple in their 20s with the same man and woman a lifetime later. Writer Abi Morgan has won acclaim for her recent BBC 2 drama The Hour. This production reunites her with Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett, who will direct and choreograph, following their previous work together on Tiny Dynamite.

Popular actor and virtuoso storyteller Simon Callow brings to life two one-man plays by Charles Dickens, DR MARIGOLD AND MR CHOPS. Adapted by Patrick Garland, the plays tell of a travelling salesman who adopts a girl, and a freak show performer who wins the lottery and a place in society. The production runs in the Festival Theatre from 21 – 26 November.

BASKET CASE is a new comedy about an unreliable charmer, played by Nigel Havers, his ex-wife and their family friend. The play is staged in the Festival Theatre from 28 November – 3 December. The cast also features Christine Kavanaugh, David Cardy and Graham Seed, best known as Nigel Pargetter in BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, until his character’s recent untimely death.

Following its hugely successful premiere in Festival 2010, a West End transfer and sell out tour, the acclaimed production of YES, PRIME MINISTER returns to the Festival Theatre from 26 January – 4 February. The much-loved BBC hit series is reimagined for the stage by original writers Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn. Prime Minister Jim Hacker, played by Graham Seed (The Archers’ Nigel Pargetter, returning to the Festival Theatre for the second time in the Winter season) and his Cabinet Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby, played by Michael Simkins (Mamma Mia, Above Suspicion), are back facing a country in financial meltdown.

More humour is on offer in the Minerva Theatre from 29 November – 3 December in THE DEBT COLLECTORS, written and directed by John Godber. This new play depicts two out of work actors forced into the world of debt recovery – a job they despise, but are made for.

Love, laughter and lunacy are in evidence in a magical new version of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM in the Minerva Theatre from 5 – 10 December. Theatre Company Filter will mix music, sound and video with stylised physical movement to create this innovative new production, with music and sound from The London Snorkelling Team.

The festive season will be celebrated in style at the CHRISTMAS CONCERTS in the Festival Theatre from 5 – 10 December. The Choir of Chichester Cathedral and The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines (Royal Band) Portsmouth will be joined by Close Company, and students from local schools, for a programme of music, carols, readings and poems, all compiled and presented by actor and director Philip Franks. A special guest is to be announced.

The festive mood continues with an enthralling adaptation of THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE by C S Lewis, dramatised by Adrian Mitchell, directed by Dale Rooks and designed by Simon Higlett. This delightful production, staged by Chichester Festival Youth Theatre, will feature original music by Matthew Scott, enchanting puppetry by Toby Olié, with costume design by Amy Jackson. The production runs from 17 – 31 December in the Festival Theatre.

Other children’s shows include SNOW PLAY (12 – 15 December), GREAT GRAN’S GREAT GAMES (13 and 14 January) and RING A DING DING (7 – 11 February), all in the Minerva Theatre.

Family entertainment is also on offer in a new musical production of SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS by Helen Edmundson, writer of Coram Boy and Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy, based on the much-loved book by Arthur Ransome. This delightful story of an idyllic childhood is directed by Tom Morris, whose credits include the international smash hit War Horse. It is presented by The Children’s Touring Partnership following their acclaimed production of Goodnight Mister Tom last year. This production is staged in the Festival Theatre from 17 – 21 January.

One of Russia’s most successful and popular touring companies, Moscow City Ballet, return to showcase their talents with productions of THE NUTCRACKER and ROMEO AND JULIET in the Festival Theatre from 3 – 8 January.
Contemporary dance is staged by Probe who present MAY in the Minerva Theatre on 1 February. This darkly humourous story of modern day romance is told in dance, text and song, directed by Pete Shenton and written by Tim Crouch. There will also be a preview of work from Mapdance’s 2012 programme in the Minerva Theatre on 18 January.

Carl Rosa Opera return with IOLANTHE, Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic depiction of class and the political system, in which the topsy-turvy world of Parliament is invaded by fairies. The production runs in the Festival Theatre from 13 – 18 February.

Other musical offerings include the BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA CHICHESTER SEASON (5 and 24 February), MINGUS PROFILES SEXTET (20 January), PIAF – THE SONGS (21 January), ZOE RAHMAN (27 January), RICHARD DURRANT (28 January), FASCINATING AÏDA (9 February) and the THREE PHANTOMS (10 and 11 February).

Roots Around the World return with Britain’s ‘First Lady of Folk’ JULIE FELIX on 19 January and THE BRITFOLK FOOTPRINT featuring Oysterband, June Tabor and special guests on 7 February.

Other one-night-only performances include LAUGH AND BE HAPPY, where Peter Polycarpou and guests reprises the songs and music of Randy Newman on 27 October, THE 3RD OPEN ART LECTURE, MY LIFE IN A SPIN, offering the opportunity to join Tim Marlow (White Cube Director of Exhibitions) in conversation with Frank Dunphy (Manager to Damien Hirst) in the Minerva Theatre on 11 December for a unique insight into the life of leading artists. PAULA PRYKE: A LIFE IN FLOWERS showcases her talents in the Minerva Theatre on 3 February, and THE VIRGINIA MONOLOGUES offers a gently humourous insight into growing older disgracefully, written and performed by Virginia Ironside, and directed by Nigel Planer in the Minerva Theatre on 4 February.

GetComedy.com present a night of BELLY LAUGHS LIVE on 8 February – line up TBC.

Release issued by: Chichester Festival Theatre

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