2014 Season at Chichester to Feature Imelda Staunton in Gypsy, Rupert Everett in Amadeus and More
By Mark Shenton
The 2014 summer season will see the reopening of the Chichester Festival Theatre, following a £22 million refurbishment that has transformed the auditorium, public and backstage spaces, with a new production of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus starring Rupert Everett.
It will be followed by Guys and Dolls, featuring choreography by superstar dancer Carlos Acosta; Gypsy, starring Imelda Staunton as Rose, reuniting her with director Jonathan Kent, who in 2011 directed her at Chichester as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd; and a production of Noel Coward's An Ideal Husband, starring Patricia Routledge.
The season in the Minerva Studio will include three world premieres of plays by Richard Bean, David Haig and first-time playwright Mark Hayhurst, as well as revivals of plays by Hugh Whitemore, August Strindberg, Peter Shaffer and Terrence McNally, with casts that will include Zoë Wanamaker, Penelope Wilton and Dervla Kirwin.
The season, which will run from April in the Minerva and July in the main Chichester Festival Theatre, will extend through to December for the first time.
In a press statement, artistic director Jonathan Church commented, "We're immensely proud of our new theatre and of the season that celebrates our year of transformation. As great writers, great directors and great performers are at the heart of what we do, I’m thrilled to present a programme distinguished by the finest dramatic writing, with new plays standing front and centre of our season. Of course, both our audiences and the artists that work at Chichester are integral to our success and I look forward to renewing and strengthening our relationships with them during the important year ahead."
The first production in the revamped Festival Theatre will be a new production of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, beginning performances July 12 prior to an official opening July 18, for a run through Aug. 2. It will be directed by artistic director Jonathan Church, with Rupert Everett returning to Chichester to play Salieri.
The play, which tells a fictionalized account of the rivalry between Viennese court composer Salieri and young genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, premiered at the National Theatre in 1979 before transferring to Broadway in 1980. It was last revived at London's Old Vic in 1998 in a production that also transferred.
A celebration of Peter Shaffer’s work will be at the heart of the season, which also features a production of Black Comedy in the Minerva, presented in a double bill with Strindberg's Miss Julie (in a new version by Rebecca Lenkiewicz) that will begin performances July 4, prior to an official opening July 10, for a run through Aug. 9. Rosalie Craig will star as Miss Julie in Jamie Glover's production.
Amadeus will be followed by revivals of two major Broadway classics: Guys and Dolls will begin performances Aug. 11, prior to an official opening Aug. 21, for a run through Sept. 21, and Gypsy will begin performances Oct. 6, prior to an official opening Oct. 14, for a run through Nov. 8.
Guys and Dolls, which will feature Clare Foster as Sarah Brown, Jamie Parker as Sky Masterson, Peter Polycarpou as Nathan Detroit and Sophie Thompson as Miss Adelaide, will be directed by American director Gordon Greenberg and choreographed by Carlos Acosta.
Gypsy, which will be directed by Jonathan Kent, who previously directed Sweeney Todd and Private Lives at Chichester, both of which transferred to the West End, will star Imelda Staunton as Rose. Also in the cast are Lara Pulver as Louise and Kevin Whately as Herbie. The choreographer will be Stephen Mear.
An Ideal Husband will begin performances Nov. 21 prior to an official opening Nov. 27, for a run through Dec. 13. Rachel Kavanaugh will direct a cast that includes Patricia Routledge as Lady Markby.
Finally, in the main house, Chichester Festival Youth Theatre will present Bryony Lavery's new adaptation of Dodie Smith's The Hundred and One Dalmatians, beginning performances Dec. 20 prior to an official opening Dec. 23, for a run through Jan. 3, 2015, directed by Dale Rooks.
In the Minerva Studio, the season will begin with a new production of Hugh Whitemore's Stevie, beginning performances April 24 prior to an official opening May 2 for a run through May 24. A portrait of the life of English poet and novelist Stevie Smith, the title role will be played by Zoë Wanamaker, with a cast that also includes Lynda Baron and Chris Larkin under the direction of Christopher Morahan.
The world premiere of David Haig's Pressure will follow, beginning performances May 31 prior to an official opening June 5, for a run through June 28. Co-produced with Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Theatre, it is directed by John Dove. Telling the little-known true story of a Scottish meteorologist's crucial role in determining the outcome of the 1944 June D-Day landings, it will star playwright Haig as the meteorologist, with Malcolm Sinclair as General Eisenhower.
After the aforementioned double bill of Miss Julie and Black Comedy, a second world premiere in the Minerva will see Richard Bean's Pitcairn begin performances Aug. 22 prior to an official opening Aug. 28, for a run through Sept. 20. According to press materials, the play explores the fallout from the mutiny on the Bounty with salty humor and growing horror. It will be directed by Max Stafford-Clark, with whom Bean previously collaborated on The Big Fellah, and is a co-production with Out of Joint and Shakespeare's Globe; it will subsequently transfer to the Globe.
A third world premiere will see Mark Hayhurst's Taken at Midnight begin performances Sept. 26 prior to an official opening Oct. 2, for a run through Oct. 25. The play uncovers the harrowing true story of Hans Litten, a celebrated lawyer in 1930s Germany, who famously put Hitler on the witness stand, with devastating consequences that saw him imprisoned without trial and tortured. The cast features Penelope Wilton as Litten’s mother, under the direction of Chichester artistic director Jonathan Church.
Finally in the Minerva, Dervla Kirwin, who is currently appearing in the West End in The Weir, will star in a new production of Terrence McNally's Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune, beginning performances Nov. 6 prior to an official opening Nov. 13, for a run through Dec. 6.
Priority booking for members of the theatre opens March 12, with public booking online from March 19 and by phone and in person from March 24. To book tickets, contact the box office on 01243 781312, or visit www.cft.org.uk.
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