Chichester Festival Theatre Announces Festival 2011

At the heart of the sixth season from Artistic Director Jonathan Church and Executive Director Alan Finch will be ‘a Festival within a Festival’ celebrating the achievements of playwright Terence Rattigan in the centenary year of his birth. There will be productions of two of his finest plays, The Deep Blue Sea and The Browning Version, both of which will play in conjunction with the world premiere of a connected piece, Rattigan’s Nijinsky by Nicholas Wright and South Downs by David Hare. There will also be a series of Rattigan-themed rehearsed readings, discussions and talks. For the first time, the season also features three musicals, She Loves Me, Singin’ in the Rain and Sweeney Todd, which will form the beginning, middle and end of the Festival. Vastly different in style and content, these three productions reflect the diversity and range of musical theatre itself.

Book by Joe Masteroff
Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
9 May – 18 June, Minerva Theatre (Press Night: Monday 16 May 7.00pm)

Director & Choreographer: Stephen Mear
Designer: Anthony Ward
Lighting Designer: Chris Davey
Musical Director: Phil Bateman
Sound Designer: Matt McKenzie
Orchestrator: Steven Edis

A witty and warm-hearted musical gem – later reworked for the big screen as The Shop Around the Corner and You’ve Got Mail – this is the delightful story of Georg and Amalia, two lovelorn assistants in a 1930s parfumerie. They squabble by day but at night write anonymous love letters, both unaware that they are each other’s secret correspondent.

The cast features Joe McFadden. Last at Chichester in Festival 05’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, his other credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Rent on stage and Heartbeat, Casualty and Cranford on television.

Dianne Pilkington plays Amalia. Her stage credits include The 39 Steps, Wicked, The Wolf Man, Taboo, Tonight’s The Night, The Beautiful Game and Les Misérables.

The musical will be directed and choreographed by Chichester Festival Theatre Associate Stephen Mear.

His productions for Chichester include The Music Man and Funny Girl. Other credits include the forthcoming West End production of Betty Blue Eyes, Shoes, Mary Poppins, for which he received the Olivier Award for Best Choreography, together with Matthew Bourne, and Hello, Dolly! for which he received the Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreographer.

20 May – 11 June, Festival Theatre (Press Night: Tuesday 31 May 7.00pm)

Director: Trevor Nunn
Lighting Designer: Tim Mitchell

This richly inventive play retells Hamlet through the eyes of two of its minor characters, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who inhabit a world completely beyond their grasp and control.

Tom Stoppard’s plays include The Real Inspector Hound, Jumpers, Travesties, The Real Thing, Arcadia and Rock ‘n’ Roll, while his screenplays include Shakespeare in Love for which he was awarded an Oscar for Best Screenplay, together with co-writer Marc Norman.

Trevor Nunn directed Cyrano de Bergerac for Festival 09. He has been Artistic Director of both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, and his credits include the forthcoming West End production of Flare Path, as well as Birdsong, A Little Night Music, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Hamlet, King Lear, The Seagull and Porgy and Bess.

TOP GIRLS by Caryl Churchill
23 June – 16 July, Minerva Theatre (Press Night: Thursday 30 June 7.00pm)

Director: Max Stafford-Clark
Designer: Tim Shortall
Lighting Designer: Jason Taylor

One of the boldest and most original plays of the 1980s, Top Girls remains equally relevant today. A provocative study of powerful women in Thatcher’s Britain, the play examines the compromises made by women in the quest for success, and what happens to those left behind.

Caryl Churchill’s plays include Cloud Nine, Serious Money, for which she received the Evening Standard Award for Best New Comedy and the Olivier Award for Best New Play, Far Away and A Number.

Max Stafford-Clark returns to Top Girls, having directed its premiere at the Royal Court in 1982. He was Artistic Director of the Royal Court from 1979 – 1993 and of the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh from 1968 – 1970. He co-founded the Joint Stock Theatre Group in 1974 and Out of Joint in 1993. Among his directing credits are regular collaborations with writer Caryl Churchill, including Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, Cloud Nine and Serious Money.

Top Girls is a co-production with Out of Joint.

Contains adult themes and strong language.

Based on the MGM film
Screenplay and adaptation by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed
27 June – 10 September, Festival Theatre (Press Night: Tuesday 5 July 7.00pm)

Director: Jonathan Church
Designer: Simon Higlett
Choreographer: Andrew Wright
Lighting Designer: Tim Mitchell
Musical Director: Robert Scott
Sound Designer: Matt McKenzie

This classic musical evokes the era when the silver screen was changed forever by the emergence of talking pictures. The glorious score features Make ‘em Laugh, Good Morning, Moses Supposes and Singin’ in the Rain.

Adam Cooper, whose credits include On Your Toes and Guys and Dolls, plays silent movies star Don Lockwood. The cast also features Daniel Crossley, whose credits include Hello Dolly!, Chicago, Fosse and Mary Poppins, and Scarlett Strallen, who has appeared in The Music Man (Festival 08), Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Jonathan Church is Chichester’s Festival Theatre’s Artistic Director. His credits for Chichester include The Critic and The Real Inspector Hound, The Grapes of Wrath, Pravda, Hobson’s Choice, The Circle and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. His credits also include Master Class and the Olivier Award-nominated Of Mice and Men.

THE DEEP BLUE SEA by Terence Rattigan
13 July – 3 September, Festival Theatre (Press Night: Monday 25 July 2.15pm)

Director: Philip Franks
Music: Matthew Scott

With his trademark empathy and sensitivity, Rattigan explores the driving force of desire and its devastating consequences through his depiction of Hester Collyer, torn between her love for a callow younger man, and the security of a lifeless marriage.

Terence Rattigan’s plays include Separate Tables, In Praise of Love, The Winslow Boy and The Browning Version which will also be staged during Festival 2011. The Deep Blue Sea will be partnered by the world premiere of Rattigan’s Nijinsky (see below) which will be performed by the same company of actors. Both productions form part of the ‘festival within a Festival’ taking place to mark the centenary of Rattigan’s birth.

Based on a screenplay by Terence Rattigan
19 July – 3 September, Festival Theatre (Press Night: Monday 25 July, 7.00pm)

Director: Philip Franks
Music: Matthew Scott

This production marks the staging of two world premieres in one. In 1974 Terence Rattigan wrote a television script for the BBC about Diaghilev, the impresario behind the Ballet Russes and Nijinsky, the most renowned dancer of all time. The screenplay was later withdrawn in mysterious circumstances by Rattigan himself and neither produced nor published.

Now, in his new play, Nicholas Wright imagines why. The dying Rattigan meets Nijinsky’s elderly widow, Romola, to fight over his play. Meanwhile, in the same room, Diaghilev and the young Romola fight over the tormented Nijinsky.

Nicholas Wright’s work includes Mrs Klein, Vincent in Brixton, the adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and The Reporter.

Philip Franks directs both The Deep Blue Sea and Rattigan’s Nijinsky. His productions for Chichester include The Master Builder, Separate Tables, Twelfth Night and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.

THE SYNDICATE (Il Sindaco Del Rione Sanità) by Eduardo De Filippo
In a new version by Mike Poulton
21 July – 20 August, Minerva Theatre (Press Night: Tuesday 2 August 7.00pm)

Director: Sean Mathias

Ian McKellen returns to Chichester for the first time in several decades to play Don Antonio, the Godfather making someone an offer they can’t refuse in this witty dark comedy set in 1960s Naples. McKellen’s distinguished career includes theatre credits for Macbeth, Waiting for Godot and King Lear. His film credits include The Lord of the Rings, Gods and Monsters, Richard III, Dance of Death and X Men.

The cast also features Michael Pennington as Dr Fabio. His credits include The Master Builder (Festival 2010), Collaboration and Taking Sides (Festivals 08 and 09), The Iron Lady and Love is My Sin, as well as extensive work with the RSC and his English Shakespeare Company.

Eduardo De Filippo’s plays include Napoli Milionaria, Filumena and Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Mike Poulton’s adaptations include Wallenstein (Festival 09), The Cherry Orchard, The Father, Fortune’s Fool and Uncle Vanya.

Sean Mathias’ stage credits include Waiting for Godot with Ian McKellen, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, A Little Night Music and the award-winning film Bent.

THE BROWNING VERSION by Terence Rattigan
2 September – 8 October, Minerva Theatre (Press Night: Wednesday 14 September 7pm)

South Downs
Director: Jeremy Herrin

David Hare’s new one-act play, written at the invitation of the Rattigan Trust as a response to The Browning Version, concerns a lonely boy at a public school on the South Downs. It is a meditation on learning, faith and teenage friendship set against the backdrop of a Britain still striving to maintain the established order.

David Hare’s plays include The Power of Yes, Stuff Happens, Gethsemane, The Vertical Hour, Amy’s View, Racing Demons, which received an Olivier Award for Best New Play, Murmuring Judges, The Absence of War, Pravda (with Howard Brenton) which received an Evening Standard Award for Best Play and Skylight; his screenplays include The Reader and The Hours.

Jeremy Herrin is Deputy Artistic Director of the Royal Court where he has directed David Hare’s The Vertical Hour, That Face and The Heretic. He has also directed The Family Reunion at the Donmar and Statement of Regret at the National Theatre.

The Browning Version
Director: Angus Jackson

Classics master Andrew Crocker-Harris, brilliant scholar turned unpopular teacher is retiring from a public school to teach in a crammer. His years of self-loathing, buttoned-up disappointment and humiliation are released by a small gesture of unexpected kindness from one of his pupils in this poignant one-act play.

Associate Director Angus Jackson’s credits for Chichester include Goodnight Mister Tom (currently touring), Bingo, Wallenstein, Funny Girl, The Waltz of the Toreadors and Carousel. His other stage credits include Elmina’s Kitchen, Fix Up, Rocket to the Moon and David Hare’s The Power of Yes, all for the National Theatre.

The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
From an adaptation by Christopher Bond
24 September – 5 November, Festival Theatre (Press Night: Thursday 6 October 7pm)

Director: Jonathan Kent
Designer: Anthony Ward
Choreographer: Denni Sayers
Lighting Designer: Mark Henderson
Musical Director: Nicholas Skilbeck
Sound Designer: Paul Groothuis

Acclaimed musical theatre actor Michael Ball takes the title role in this dark and witty portrayal of corruption and revenge, generally acknowledged as Sondheim’s masterpiece. Combining elements of horror with English music hall, the musical depicts Sweeney Todd’s return to nineteenth century London following years of false imprisonment.

Stephen Sondheim’s musicals include Follies, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George and Passion.

Michael Ball’s stage credits include originating the role of Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, for which he won Laurence Olivier and Whatsonstage Awards for Best Actor in a Musical. He will be reprising the role on tour this Spring. Other stage credits include Les Misérables, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Phantom of the Opera, Passion and The Woman in White. Last year he co-produced the West End production of Love Story following its Chichester premiere during Festival 2010.

Award-winning actress Imelda Staunton plays Sweeney Todd’s accomplice, the pie-shop owner Mrs Lovett. Staunton’s film credits include Vera Drake for which she received the BAFTA Best Actress Award and an Oscar nomination, Another Year, the Harry Potter series and Shakespeare in Love. Her stage credits include Entertaining Mr Sloane, Guys and Dolls and Into The Woods. On television she has featured in Cranford and Psychoville.

Jonathan Kent directed A Month in the Country for Chichester’s Festival 2010. Other recent work includes the National Theatre production of Oepidus starring Ralph Fiennes and The Fairy Queen at Glyndebourne. He was Artistic Director of the Almeida Theatre for 12 years where his work included When We Dead Awaken, All For Love, Medea, The School For Wives and Gangster No.1.

Age guideline: 12+

As part of this year’s celebration of the life and work of Terence Rattigan, there will be a series of rehearsed readings of some of his lesser-known plays with members of the Festival Company and special guests.

Sunday 31 July, Minerva Theatre 3.00pm
Directed by Philip Franks
Written with Philip Heimann while Rattigan was still at Oxford, this play depicts the devastating impact of a visiting actress upon a group of undergraduates.

Sunday 7 August, Minerva Theatre 3.00pm
Directed by and featuring Penelope Keith
An entertainment devised by Jack Tinker and Martin Tickner.

Sunday 14 August, Minerva Theatre 3.00pm
Directed by Tim Hoare
One of Rattigan’s own favourite plays – never been produced since its premiere – this sweeping historical drama is the story of Alexander the Great, who conquers the world and loses his soul.

Sunday 21 August, Minerva Theatre 3.00pm
Directed by Michael Oakley
Rattigan’s retelling of the story of Camille, in which Marguerite Gaultier falls hopelessly in love with a bisexual dancer much younger than herself.

Sunday 4 September, Minerva Theatre 3.00pm
Directed by Philip Franks
During the course of a live interview, an eminent politician is forced to reveal the truth about his political and personal life. This prophetic play is based on the infamous television interview programme Face to Face hosted by John Freeman from 1959 – 1962.

Sunday 25 September, Minerva Theatre 6.00pm
Directed by Angus Jackson
This humourous caricature of post-war theatre life was originally performed in a double bill with The Browning Version, which plays this season in the Minerva Theatre.

There will also be various other events, pre- and post-show talks, Saturday shorts and workshops related to Festival 2011 productions. Full details are in the Festival brochure, pages 25 – 27, or online at

Priority Booking for Friends of Chichester Festival Theatre opens on Thursday 17 February at 10.00am. To become a Friend of the Theatre and benefit from priority booking and discounted tickets, call 01243 781312 or join online at

Online public booking opens for everyone on Monday 28 February at 10.00am. Telephone and counter booking opens for everyone on Thursday 3 March. Tickets £10 – £38 available online at or contact the Box Office on 01243 781312.

Chichester Festival Theatre is working in partnership with The University of Chichester to offer reduced price tickets for the first three performances of all productions in the Festival Theatre. To book for The University of Chichester Festival Theatre Previews, visit or call the Box Office on 01243 781312.

Release issued by: Chichester Festival Theatre press office


Chichester Festival Theatre website

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