Funny Girl will open on May 8, following previews from April 28, for a run to June 14, in the studio Minerva Theatre. The show, with a book by Isobel Lennart, is based on the true-life story of Broadway and film star Fanny Brice, who will be played at Chichester by Samantha Spiro. Spiro won the 2002 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance as Mary Flynn in Merrily We Roll Along at the Donmar Warehouse. She also won a Joseph Jefferson Award in 2004 for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her appearance in Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's production of A Little Night Music, directed by Gary Griffin. Other leading roles include appearances in the original cast of Mike Leigh's Two Thousand Years, and she played playing Barbara Windsor in Terry Johnson's Cleo, Camping…., both at the National Theatre. Funny Girl will be directed by Angus Jackson, who has previously directed Carousel, The Father and The Waltz of the Toreadors at Chichester. More recently, he was represented in the West End by the short-lived Desperately Seeking Susan.
The Music Man will open on July 3, following previews from June 23, for a run to August 30, in the main house Festival Theatre. The title role of fraudster "Professor" Harold Hill will be taken by Brian Conley, who has previously starred in the musicals Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Jolson and Me and My Girl in the West End. Scarlett Strallen, who has starred in the West End in the lead roles of both Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins, will play Marion Paroo, the librarian who exposes Harold Hill, but nevertheless falls for his charms. The production will be directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, who is currently artistic director at Birmingham Rep.
Both productions are choreographed by Stephen Mear, currently represented on Broadway by his work on Mary Poppins (he co-choreographed with Matthew Bourne) and The Little Mermaid.
Also lined up for the season are main house productions of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, starring Diana Rigg as Mme. Ranevskaya, opening on May 23 (following previews from May 15), for a run to June 15; Somerset Maugham's The Circle, starring Susan Hampshire, opening on July 30 (following previews from July 22), for a run to August 29; and a new stage adaptation of the hit film Calendar Girls, scripted by Tim Firth, opening on Sep. 16 (following previews from Sept. 5), for a run to Sept. 27.
Other productions in the studio Minerva Theatre are Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author, opening on July 8 (following previews from June 27), for a run to August 23, directed by Rupert Goold (currently represented by his production of Macbeth at BAM that also originated at Chichester); a double-bill of two plays by Ronald Harwood, Taking Sides (also premiered at the Minerva in 1995) and a new companion play, Collaboration, opening on July 29 (following previews from July 16) for a run to Aug. 30, both of which will star Michael Pennington; and Martin Sherman's new play Aristo, opening on Sept. 25 (following previews from Sept. 11), for a run to October 11, that will star Robert Lindsay as the late tycoon Aristotle Onassis. Online booking begins on March 6, with personal and phone bookings from March 10; call 01243 781312 or visit www.cft.org.uk.