By Mark Shenton
20 Feb 2013
This year, however, with the main auditorium undergoing a £22 million redevelopment, a temporary, purpose-built, state-of-the-art auditorium called Theatre in the Park will be erected to stage two of the productions; the auditorium will mirror the existing house with 1,400 seats and a thrust stage. It will be just a few minutes’ stroll across Oaklands Park from the Festival Theatre site.
It will be launched with a new production of Cy Coleman, Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble's 1980 Broadway musical Barnum, presented by Chichester Festival Theatre in association with Cameron Mackintosh and presented in a revised version by Mackintosh and Bramble. It will begin performances July 15 prior to an official opening July 24, for a run through Aug. 31.
It will be directed by Timothy Sheader, artistic director of the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, and co-directed and choreographed by Liam Steel, who previously did Into the Woods at Regent's Park and subsequently at New York's Delacorte together. It will be co-choreographed by Andrew Wright (currently represented in the West End by his choreography of Singin' in the Rain, which also originated at Chichester), with sets by Scott Pask, costumes by Paul Wills, orchestrations by William David Brohn, musical supervision by Stephen Brooker, lighting by Paule Constable and sound by Mick Potter. Vicki Amedume is circus consultant.
The title role of Phineas T. Barnum, "America's Greatest Showman" who teamed up with JA Bailey to create Barnum and Bailey's circus, will be played by Broadway's Christopher Fitzgerald, whose roles include originating Boq in Wicked and Igor inYoung Frankenstein and has also played Launcelot Gobbo opposite Al Pacino in The Merchant of Venice and Og in the last revival of Finian's Rainbow.
It will be followed at the Theatre in the Park by a new production of Tim Firth's 1992 play Neville's Island, beginning performances Sept. 11 prior to an official opening Sept. 20, for a run through Sept. 28. The play premiered at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre, before transferring to the West End's Apollo Theatre. In the play four out-of-condition, middle-aged businessmen, sent off on a team-building exercise, succeed in becoming the first people ever to get shipwrecked on an island in the Lake District. What should have been a bonding process turns into a muddy, bloody fight for survival amidst a carnival of recrimination, French cricket and sausages. This new production is directed by Angus Jackson, with designs by Robert Innes Hopkins, lighting by Howard Harrison and sound by Paul Grothuis.Continued...