Last Updated on 20th February 2023
Artistic Director of the Chichester Festival Theatre Daniel Evans has announced his final season of programming which will include three new plays and three musicals.
Daniel Evans and Kathy Bourne said: ‘This year, we have an outstanding range of plays and musicals, including a handful of world premieres and renowned plays which have never been performed at CFT before. For example, we’ve never staged a play by the great Arthur Miller; nor have we staged Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most-loved musical. There is a rare outing of a play by US writer Adrienne Kennedy and, 50 years after his death, a new production of Noël Coward’s first big success. Contemporary, 20th century or classical, every piece has something to say about the world around us today.
‘A company of exceptional actors are already lining up to join us including Dame Eileen Atkins, Samuel Barnett, Carly Bawden, Gina Beck, Rory Bremner, Sebastian Croft, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Joshua James, Danny Mac, Alexandra Roach, Zizi Strallen, Lia Williams, Greg Wise and Susan Wokoma; and seven directors are making their Chichester debuts.’
Daniel Evans adds: ‘On a personal note, this is the seventh and last season I’ve programmed at Chichester. I’d like to thank the many thousands of freelance artists, creatives and technical staff who’ve brought them to life; CFT’s indefatigable staff; and of course our audiences, who are among the most supportive and adventurous theatregoers in the country. I know they will welcome my successor, Justin Audibert, with the same warmth that greeted my and Kathy’s own arrivals in this beautiful and unique theatre.’
Festival 2023 productions include:-
The Vortex by Noel Coward, starring Lia Williams and Joshua James. Directed by Daniel Raggett. Festival Theatre – 28 April – 20 May 2023. The roaring twenties. A world in flux. The magnetic Florence Lancaster draws people to her like moths to a flame. But when her son Nicky arrives home from Paris with an unexpected fiancée and a secret, it sets off a chain of events which threatens to pull them all into a maelstrom.
4000 Miles by Amy Herzog starring Eileen Atkins and Sebastian Croft. Directed by Richard Eyre. Minerva Theatre – 4 May – 10 June 2023. Late one night, 21-year-old Leo arrives without warning at his grandmother’s Manhattan apartment – the furthest point on a momentous bike ride across America. Vera is 91 and lives alone, her independence undimmed by the challenges of modern living. Baffled by each other at first, this odd couple slowly edge across the distance between them.
Assassins – Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by John Weidman and directed by Poly Findlay. Festival Theatre – 3 – 24 June 2023. A surreal carnival. And a group of people who have one thing in common: they want to assassinate the President of the United States. Some succeed, some fail. But there’s a prize for them all: a place in the history books. John Wilkes Booth. Lee Harvey Oswald. Leon Czolgosz. Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme. John Hinckley. Charles Guiteau. Sara Jane Moore. Giuseppe Zangara. Samuel Byck. Men and women whose fervour took them to the very edge. Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Tony Award-winning biting musical comedy takes us on a daring, time-bending journey through American history.
Mom, How Did You Meet The Beatles? by Adrienne Kennedy and Adam P Kennedy, directed by Diyan Zora. Minerva Theatre 18 June – 8 July 2023. Playwright Adrienne Kennedy impulsively leaves New York for London with her young son, intent on adapting John Lennon’s book ‘In His Own Write’ for the stage. In the heady atmosphere of the Swinging ‘60s, she finds herself rubbing shoulders with a dizzying array of celebrities, including all four Beatles. And when her idols, Laurence Olivier – director of the National Theatre – and his influential literary manager Kenneth Tynan, along with actor Victor Spinetti, promise to produce her play, it seems like a dream come true. But slowly the stars seem to align in a different way.
Gina Beck stars in The Sound of Music with music by Richard Rodgers and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II with a book by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse directed by Adam Penford. Festival Theatre – 10 July – 3 September 2023. Austria, 1938. Free-spirited nun Maria is sent away from her abbey to become governess to the widowed Captain von Trapp’s seven children. She brings music and laughter back to his unfeeling household, but the future holds more joy and jeopardy than she ever dreamed possible.
Rock Follies – a new musical by Chloe Moss, lyrics by Howard Schuman, music by Andy Mackay, directed by Dominic Cooke. Minerva Theatre – 24 July – 26 August 2023. Before the Spice Girls, Sugababes and The Saturdays… It’s the 1970s and feminism is on the rise. Fed up with the male-dominated entertainment industry, Anna, Dee and Q take the future into their own hands and form a rock band – the ironically named ‘Little Ladies’. And so begins the musical helter-skelter ride of a lifetime. Can principles and ambition co-exist? And can their friendship survive in the dog-eat-dog world of rock? Cast includes Carly Bawden, Zizi Strallen, Samuel Barnett, Tamsin Carroll and Fred Haig.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare presented by Chichester Festival Youth Theatre. Directed by Jon Pashley. West Dean Gardens – 4 – 19 August 2023. Oh hell! To choose love by another’s eyes. Faced with unwanted marriages and parents who don’t listen, four teenage lovers flee the city. But in the forest things are no better: the Fairy King and Queen are at war and a bunch of wannabe actors struggle to get their show off the ground. In this enchanted, topsy-turvy world, their dream of escape threatens to turn into a nightmare. Friends fall out, transformations abound, and magic piles on mayhem.
Alexandra Roach, Greg Wise and Susan Wokoma in Never Have I Ever – a new play by Deborah Frances-White directed by Emma Butler. Minerva Theatre – 1 – 30 September 2023. Jacq and Kas’s boutique restaurant has gone bust, and telling their oldest friends Adaego and her rich husband Tobin that his investment is toast is only the start of the evening. Cash, class, identity and infidelity are all on the menu. As the last of the expensive wine flows, a dangerous drinking game reveals long-hidden truths and provokes an unspeakable dare. This explosive, savagely funny first play by Deborah Frances-White, comedian, screenwriter and host of the global hit podcast The Guilty Feminist, brilliantly skewers the contradictions of contemporary society, and the shifting sands of power and sexual politics.
Rory Bremner in Quiz by James Graham directed by Daniel Evans and Sean Linnen. Festival Theatre – 22 – 30 September 2023. More information on Quiz and it’s UK Tour.
Arthur Miller’s A View From The Bridge – Directed by Jaz Woodcock-Stewart. Festival Theatre – 6 – 28 October 2023. On the Brooklyn waterfront, where the fierce passions of ancestral Sicily linger, the orphaned Catherine falls for her handsome, newly arrived cousin Rodolfo – an illegal immigrant. Their romance is encouraged by her aunt Beatrice but viewed with revulsion by her uncle, Eddie Carbone, who harbours an unspoken desire. As tensions rise, their story spins inexorably beyond control.
The Inquiry – a new play by Harry Davies – directed by Joanna Bowman. Minerva Theatre 13 October – 4 November 2023. MP Arthur Gill is one of Westminster’s rising stars. Still in his 30s, he’s just become the Secretary of State for Justice, assuming the role of Lord Chancellor too; and with a leadership race on the horizon, he’s a favourite to be the next Prime Minister. But there’s a problem. An inquiry headed by Lady Justice Deborah Wingate is on the brink of publishing its findings about a public health disaster: a scandal that happened on Gill’s watch when he was environment minister. As leaks multiply and the waters grow murkier, how far will he go to hide his past and protect his future?
The Inquiry is a gripping drama about the pernicious collision between politics, justice and ambition.
The Jungle Book presented by Chichester Festival Youth Theatre. Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale adapted by Sonali Bhattacharyya. Festival Theatre – 16 – 31 December 2023. This brand new stage adaptation by Sonali Bhattacharyya, written specially for Chichester Festival Youth Theatre, spins Rudyard Kipling’s beloved tale into exciting, pulsating life, with a huge cast of characters from Akela, the leader of the wolf pack to Ikki the spiky porcupine and Mao the strutting peacock. A coming of age story about the desire for freedom that beats in the heart of every child.