Chichester Season to Feature Fiennes in Cyrano, Doyle-Directed Oklahoma! and Enron

News   Chichester Season to Feature Fiennes in Cyrano, Doyle-Directed Oklahoma! and Enron Chichester Festival Theatre and its Minerva studio will stage four world premieres, six revivals and one classic musical as part of this year's Festival.

John Doyle
John Doyle Photo by Aubrey Reuben

In addition to the previously announced productions of The Last Cigarette, adapted from Simon Gray's diary of the same name (beginning performances March 11 at the Minerva), the return of the double-bill of Ronald Harwood's Taking Sides and Collaboration (running in the Minerva April 28-May 16, prior to an immediate transfer to the West End's Duchess Theatre), and Diana Rigg starring in Coward's Hay Fever (beginning performances in the main house Festival Theatre April 9), the season will include Chichester debuts from directors Howard Davies and Trevor Nunn; the return of director Rupert Goold; stars that include Joseph Fiennes, Iain Glen and Stephanie Cole; a John Doyle-directed new production of Oklahoma!, and the world premiere of a play about the collapse of Enron.

Nunn will direct Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac (adapted by Anthony Burgess), which begins performances in the main house May 8, prior to an official opening May 14, for a run to May 30 in the Festival Theatre. Nunn, who is currently represented by his production of A Little Night Music at the Menier Chocolate Factory, will direct Joseph Fiennes in the title role. They have previously worked together on Love's Labours Lost at the National Theatre. Fiennes' other theatre credits include John Osborne's Epitaph for George Dillon in the West End and many appearances for the RSC. His films include "Goodbye Bafana" and "Running with Scissors" as well as "The Merchant of Venice," "Enemy at the Gates" and "Shakespeare in Love."

Iain Glen, who starred opposite Nicole Kidman in the Donmar Warehouse production of The Blue Room will play the title role in Wallenstein, adapted by Mike Poulton from Friedrich Schiller's trilogy of plays, Wallenstein's Camp, The Piccolomini and Wallenstein's Death. The production will receive its world premiere in the Minerva Theatre, with performances beginning May 22 (prior to an official opening May 29) for a run to June 13. The play revolves around the eponymous military leader, who believes he is the only commander who can bring peace to the Empire. On the battlefield, Wallenstein inspires fanatical loyalty in his troops. At court politicians, jealous of his victories, howl for his dismissal and plot against his life. Four wintry days of terrible events, conspiracy, divided loyalty and betrayal culminate in one night of violent score setting. The cast also includes Charlotte Emmerson as Countess Terzky and Sebastian Armesto as Illo. It is directed by Chichester Associate Director Angus Jackson.

John Doyle, whose recent productions include Sweeney Todd, Company, A Catered Affair and Sondheim's Road Show, will return to the U.K. to direct a new production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, which begins performances in the Festival Theatre June 5 (prior to an official opening June 24) for a run to Aug. 29. The cast includes Leila Ben-Harris as Laurey, Natalie Casey as Ado Annie, Craig Els as Jud, Michael Matus as Ali Hakim, Louise Plowright as Aunt Eller and Michael Xavier as Curly. The production is designed by David Farley with choreography by Nikki Woolaston, lighting by CFT associate Tim Mitchell, musical direction by Catherine Jayes and sound by Matt McKenzie.

Howard Davies, NT associate director, will direct the world premiere of Heidi Thomas' The House of Special Purpose, beginning performances in the Minerva Theatre June 20 (prior to an official opening June 30) for a run to Aug. 22. The play follows the plight of the Romanov family during the Russian Revolution. Transported to Ekaterinberg, the deposed Tsar of Russia is imprisoned with his wife, four daughters and invalid teenage son as the communist revolution sweeps through Russia. For one brief and airless summer, the House of Special Purpose holds them all within its walls. Packed into the suffocating rooms, the family and their guards are forced into a frail and dangerous intimacy, tensions rising as boundaries strain and break. Thomas' recent work includes her BAFTA and Emmy-nominated screenplays for "Cranford," as well as the original BBC series "Lilies" and screen adaptations of "Madame Bovary," "Ballet Shows" and "I Capture the Castle." The production is designed by William Dudley with costumes by Jenny Bevan, lighting by Howard Harrison, music by Dominic Muldowney and sound by Christopher Shutt. Chichester's artistic director Jonathan Church will direct a new production of Frank Galati's adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, beginning performances July 10 (prior to an official opening July 16) for a run to Aug. 28 in the Festival Theatre. Premiered by Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 1988, it won two Tony Awards on its transfer to Broadway and subsequently came to the Natioanl Theatre. A large ensemble cast tell the story of the Joads – a family of impoverished Oklahoman share-croppers who, like thousands of others, lose everything and trek 2000 miles across America seeking a better life. Church's previous productions for Chichester include The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (that transferred to the West End's Gielgud Theatre), Pravda, Hobson's Choice and The Circle. The production is designed by Simon Higlett, with lighting by Tim Mitchell and music by John Tams. The Grapes of Wrath is a co-production with English Touring Theatre, who will tour it throughout the U.K. in the autumn.

Lucy Prebble's Enron will receive its world premiere in the Minerva, beginning performances July 11 (prior to an official opening July 22) for a run to Aug. 29. Based on real life and using music, movement and video, the play explores one of the most infamous scandals in financial history, reviewing the tumultuous 1990s and casting a new light on the financial turmoil in which the world finds itself in 2009. Rupert Goold, who previously directed both Macbeth (that subsequently transferred to the West End and Broadway) and Six Characters in Search of an Author (that transferred to the West End) in the Minerva, returns to direct; design is by Anthony Ward with music and sound by Adam Cork. Prebble won the George Devine Award and the Critics' Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright for her debut play The Sugar Syndrome in 2004. Enron, co-produced with Goold's company Headlong and the Royal Court Theatre, will transfer to the latter, with performances beginning Sept. 17 (prior to an official opening Sept. 22) for a run to Oct. 31.

Finally, Stephanie Cole will star in Separate Tables, Terence Rattigan's double-bill of two one-act plays, Table By the Window and Table Number Seven, both set in the apparently genteel dining room of a hotel near Bournemouth. It will begin performances Sept. 10 (prior to an official opening Sept. 17) for a run to Oct. 3 in the Festival Theatre. First staged in the West End in 1954, but subsequently amended by the playwright for a Broadway production that did not, in fact, implement those changes, it is being staged now in that modified version that was re-discovered in the 1990s. Associate director Philip Franks, whose previous Chichester productions include The Cherry Orchard, Twelfth Night, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (the latter co-directed with Jonathan Church) and Taking Sides and Collaboration, will direct.

Priority booking for members of the Friends of Chichester Festival Theatre opens Feb. 19, with public booking available online from March 5 and telephone/counter bookings from March 9. To book tickets contact the box office at 01243 781312 or visit www.cft.org.uk.

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