In addition to the previously announced productions of Edward Bond's Bingo and the premiere of Howard Goodall's musical version of the film "Love Story" (both in the Minerva studio theatre), and revivals of Pygmalion starring Rupert Everett and the Broadway musical 42nd Street (in the main house), the season will also include the return of last year's hit production of Enron, ahead of a U.K tour, the world premiere of a stage version of the satirical British TV series "Yes, Prime Minister," a double bill of Sheridan's The Critic and Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound, new adaptations of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist and Ibsen's The Master Builder and a new production of Turgenev's A Month in the Country.
The season in the main house Festival Theatre begins with the world premiere of Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn's Yes, Prime Minister, a new stage version of their classic 1980s television series. It will begin performances May 13, prior to an official opening May 20, for a run through June 5. Lynn will direct, with designs by Simon Higlett and lighting by Tim Mitchell. In the new play, Prime Minister Jim Hacker (to be played by David Haig, originally played on television by the late Paul Eddington), Cabinet Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby (Henry Goodman, originally played on television by Nigel Hawthorne) and his Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley face a country in financial meltdown, with the only prospect of salvation coming from morally dubious allies – leading to deliciously comic consequences. Goodman was last seen on the West End stage in Duet for One (Almeida, then Vaudeville); other recent London stage credits include Timberlake Wertenbaker's The Line (Arcola Theatre) and Fiddler on the Roof (Savoy). Haig was recently featured in the latest series of the award-winning BBC political comedy "The Thick of It." West End stage appearances include the Theatre Royal, Haymarket productions of The Sea and The Country Wife, Donkey’s Years, Mary Poppins and Hitchcock Blonde, as well as screen roles in the TV play "My Boy Jack" (which he also wrote) and the film "Four Weddings and a Funeral." Lynn's directing credits include the Hollywood films "Wild Target" (due for release this spring), "The Fighting Temptations," "The Whole Nine Yards," "The Distinguished Gentleman" and "My Cousin Vinny."
The classic Broadway musical 42nd Street will be revived next, beginning performances June 21, prior to an official opening July 1, for a run through Aug. 28. It will be directed by Paul Kerryson (artistic director of Leicester's Curve Theatre, where he recently directed the U.K. premiere of Adam Guettel's The Light in the Piazza. It will be designed by Ashley Martin-Davis, with choreography by Andrew Wright, lighting by Chris Ellis, musical direction by Julian Kelly and sound design by Matt McKenzie. 42nd Street has music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin, and book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble.
It is followed by a new production of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, beginning performances July 9 prior to an official opening July 19, for a run through Aug. 27. As previously announced, Rupert Everett – last seen onstage in the Broadway revival of Coward's Blithe Spirit opposite Angela Lansbury in 2009 – will return to the British stage to play Professor Higgins, under the direction of Philip Prowse, with whom he previously worked at Glasgow's Citizens' Theatre on productions that included The Vortex, which subsequently transferred to the West End, and The Milkman Doesn't Live Here Anymore, which subsequently transferred to Lyric Hammersmith. Everett is best known for his films that include "Another Country" (in which he reprised the role he created in the original stage production), "Dance with a Stranger," "My Best Friend's Wedding," "An Ideal Husband," "The Next Best Thing" and Jonathan Lynn's film "Wild Target," to be released in the spring. He is joined by Stephanie Cole as his mother Mrs. Higgins, who was last seen at Chichester Festival Theatre in last year's production of Separate Tables. The production is also designed by Prowse, with lighting by Gerry Jenkinson.
It is followed by a brief return of Lucy Prebble's Enron, which originally premiered in the Minerva Theatre in 2009 and is now running at the West End's Noel Coward Theatre and is due to open at Broadway's Broadhurst Theatre in April. It will return for ten performances only, this time to the main house Festival Theatre, for a season from Sept. 10-18, prior to a national tour. Rupert Goold directs, with designs by Anthony Ward, lighting by Mark Henderson, composer and sound design by Adam Cork, video and projection design by Jon Driscoll and choreography by Scott Ambler. The main house season will conclude with Jonathan Kent's new production of Turgenev's A Month in the Country, beginning performances Sept. 24 prior to an official opening Sept. 30, for a season through Oct. 16. It is presented in Brian Friel's adaptation, with designs by Paul Brown and lighting by Mark Henderson. The play charts a passionately eventful summer month on a country estate as Natalya struggles to recover after being consumed by a hopeless love for her young son’s tutor. Kent last directed the National's production of Oedipus, starring Ralph Fiennes in the title role. Previously joint artistic director of the Almeida Theatre, he has directed extensively on Broadway, including transfers of his Almeida stagings of Medea and Hamlet (again with Fiennes), as well as new productions of The Man of La Mancha and Faith Healer.
The season in the studio Minerva Theatre will begin with the previously announced production of Edward Bond's Bingo, beginning performances April 15, prior to an official opening April 23, for a run through May 22. Patrick Stewart returns to Chichester, where he previously played the title role in Rupert Goold's production of Macbeth in 2007 prior to a West End and Broadway transfer, to play William Shakespeare, in Bond's portrait in the last days of his life – ageing, facing poverty and lacking creative energy, until his poetry is suddenly once again unleashed by the catastrophic circumstances he faces. The cast also includes Catherine Cusack, Ellie Haddington, Kieron Jecchinis, Richard McCabe, John McEnery, Alex Price, Michelle Tate and Jason Watkins. The play is designed by Robert Innes Hopkins, with lighting by Tim Mitchell, music by Stephen Warbeck and sound design by Jonathan Suffolk.
The season continues with the world premiere of Love Story, a musical version of Erich Segal's iconic novel, best known for the 1970 film version. Featuring music by Howard Goodall, a book by Stephen Clark and lyrics by Goodall and Clark, it will begin performances May 26 prior to an official opening June 7, for a run through June 26. Rachel Kavanaugh directs, with designs by Peter McIntosh, musical direction by Stephen Ridley, sound design by Matt McKenzie and choreography by Nick Winston. Goodall's previous stage musicals include The Hired Man and Girlfriends (both seen in the West End), and he is best known for his TV themes to shows like "Bladadder" and "The Vicar of Dibley."
Chichester's artistic director Jonathan Church will next direct a double bill of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Critic and Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound, beginning performances July 2, prior to an official opening July 9, for a run through Aug. 28. Ruari Murchison designs, with lighting by Tim Mitchell, music by Matthew Scott and sound design by Jonathan Suffolk. In both plays, theatre critics take centerstage. Sheridan parodies the acting styles and theatrical conventions of the 18th century through characters such as Sir Fretful Plagiary, Mr. Puff, Dangle and Sneer. In Stoppard's play, two critics blunder out of the auditorium and into the whodunit they have come to review.
The world premiere of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, Howard Brenton's adaptation of Robert Tressell's political novel, follows, beginning performances July 15, prior to an official opening July 19, running through Aug. 26. Christopher Morahan directs, with designs by Simon Higlett and music by Ilona Sekacz. Co-produced with Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, it revolves around the life and times of a group of Edwardian working men.
Ibsen's The Master Builder, presented in a new adaptation by David Edgar, concludes the Minerva season, beginning performances Sept. 9 prior to an official opening Sept. 15, running through Oct. 9. Philip Franks directs a cast that includes Michael Pennington – seen last year at Chichester in the double-bill of Taking Sides and Collaboration that subsequently transferred to the West End's Duchess Theatre – as Halvald Solness, the leading architect of his age who is inspired by a beautiful young woman to create one final masterpiece – but at what cost? The production is designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis, with lighting by Tim Mitchell and music by Matthew Scott.
The season will also include promenade performances of The Firework-Maker's Daughter, adapted by Stephen Russell from Philip Pullman's story, presented by Chichester Festival Youth Theatre. It begins performances July 30 prior to an official opening Aug. 3, for a run through Aug. 12. It is directed by Dale Rooks, youth theatre director at Chichester Festival Theatre, and designed by Amy Jackson.
Priority booking for Chichester Festival Theatre members opens Feb. 18; with online public booking from March 1 and telephone and counter bookings from March 4. To book tickets, contact the box office at 01243 718312, or visit www.cft.org.uk