Award-winning UK regional venue Chichester Festival Theatre has announced its 2022 festival season, and artistic director Daniel Evans has pulled out all the stops to celebrate the theatre’s 60th anniversary.
Artistic Director Daniel Evans and Executive Director Kathy Bourne have announced a wide range of productions including three musicals, five new plays, and a number of drama revivals.
In terms of musicals, Susan Stroman is returning to the show she originally choreographed on Broadway 30 years ago, to direct and choreograph a brand new revival of Crazy For You, with music & lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, and book by Ken Ludwig. Add to that, Charlie Stemp will leave Mary Poppins in the West End to return to Chichester to play Bobby. The show runs from 11 July to 4 September 2022.
Also a brand new musical version of Local Hero, based on Bill Forsyth’s iconic British film, is coming to Chichester from 8 October to 19 November 2022. The show boasts a book by David Greig, music and lyrics by legendary musician and former Dire Straits band member Mark Knopfler, and direction by Daniel Evans.
Finally, a new musical has been created based on Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. Called The Famous Five: The Musical (pictured), the show runs from 21 October to 12 November 2022, and has music and lyrics by Theo Jamieson, a book by Elinor Cook, and direction by Tamara Harvey.
Five new plays are also being showcased at Chichester in 2022, partly due to a backlog from Covid delays. These include already announced new plays by Kate Mosse – The Taxidermist’s Daughter (8 to 30 April), directed by Róisín McBrinn; and Alecky Blythe – Our Generation (22 April to 14 May), which is a co-production with the National Theatre and directed by Daniel Evans.
Other drama includes The Unfriend (21 May to 9 July), a new play by Steven Moffat (Sherlock, Doctor Who), starring Amanda Abbington, Frances Barber and Reece Shearsmith, and directed by Mark Gatiss; The Narcissist (26 August to 24 September) by Christopher Shinn, directed by Josh Seymour; and already announced new Stephen Beresford play The Southbury Child (13 to 25 June) starring Alex Jennings, and directed by Nicholas Hytner, which is in Chichester before a run at the The Bridge Theatre in London.
Classic dramas brought to live at Chichester this year include a major new play based on Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, with Henry Goodman starring as Hercule Poirot. The play is adapted from Christie’s novel by Ken Ludwig and directed by Jonathan Church.
Other plays include a revival of Nicole Charles’ Chichester production of Roy Williams’s Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads; (22 July to 13 August); a revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s Woman in Mind (23 September to 15 October) directed by Justin Martin; and Chichester Festival Youth Theatre presenting Alan Bennett’s adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (17 to 31 December).
2022 will also see Daniel Evans’s acclaimed 2021 production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific come to the Sadler’s Wells theatre in London in July and August starring Julian Ovenden and Gina Beck.
Daniel Evans and Kathy Bourne told the press: “2022 marks our diamond anniversary year and our sparkling Festival Season offers no less than six world premiere productions, three musicals and a host of dramas, as well as community and digital events celebrating 60 years of CFT.
“Festival 2022 places compelling stories front and centre: joyful, gripping, uplifting and provocative. They teem with 21st century teenagers and 1930s showgirls; London football fans and Scottish environmentalists; Edwardian feminists fighting for justice and American politicians struggling for dominance. A celebrated sleuth, an Anglican vicar, a troubled housewife and overly-polite middle Englanders all have their battles to fight, while ‘the Famous Five’ and Mole, Ratty and Toad go seeking adventure.
“CFT was built by the community, for the community. Nobody in 1962 could have foreseen the digital revolution which has enabled that community to expand worldwide, and to participate in ways undreamt of 60 years ago. Our digital celebrations will include a unique link-up with the Festival Theatre in Stratford Ontario – a key inspiration for CFT’s unique hexagonal design – on our 60th anniversary itself. Meanwhile, audiences across the country will be able to see 2021’s South Pacific in person when it tours to ten UK and Ireland venues, as well as its run at Sadler’s Wells.
“Three Festival 2022 productions will pilot the standards set out in the Theatre Green Book, continuing our mission to make all our activities environmentally conscious. Off-stage, our events have a refreshed focus on young people’s voices, including a National Youth Conference and CFT Lates. And we are delighted to be co-producing work with the National Theatre, The Bridge Theatre and Theatr Clwyd.
‘In happy serendipity, we join with our fellow cultural organisations in Chichester marking significant anniversaries this year with a district-wide festival Culture Spark. After a challenging couple of years, we are all surely in need of a celebration.”