Chichester Festival 2011 To Feature Sweeney Todd with Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton and More | Playbill

News Chichester Festival 2011 To Feature Sweeney Todd with Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton and More
This year's annual summer season at Chichester Festival Theatre and its adjoining Minerva Studio will go big on musicals, including new productions of She Loves Me (starring Wicked's Dianne Pilkington), Singin' in the Rain (starring Adam Cooper) and Sweeney Todd (starring Michael Ball in the title role, with Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Lovett) that will respectively form the beginning, middle and end of the festival.

Michael Ball
Michael Ball Photo by Ken McKay

On the plays front, the season will also stage a "Festival within a Festival" to mark the centenary of Terence Rattigan's birth, including new productions of his plays The Deep Blue Sea and The Browning Version, playing in conjunction with the world premiere of a connected piece, Rattigan's Nijinsky by Nicholas Wright and South Downs by David Hare. There will also be a series of Rattigan-themed rehearsed readings, discussions and talks. Other productions will include revivals of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Caryl Churchill's Top Girls (staged by Max Stafford-Clark, returning to the play that he originally directed the world premiere of), and the world premiere of a new version of Eduardo De Filippo's The Syndicate, starring Ian McKellen.

Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joe Masteroff's 1963 Broadway musical She Loves Me will begin performances May 9, prior to an official opening May 16, for a run to June 18 in the studio Minerva. Stephen Mear (who co-choreographed Mary Poppins and choreographed The Little Mermaid on Broadway) will direct and choreograph, with a cast led by Joe McFadden (last seen at Chichester in the lead role of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) and Dianne Pilkington (Wicked, The 39 Steps in the West End).

Singin' in the Rain, based on the 1952 MGM film of the same name, will begin performances June 27, prior to an official opening July 5, for a run in the main house Festival Theatre to Sept. 10. Chichester artistic director Jonathan Church will direct, with choreography by Andrew Wright. The cast is led by Adam Cooper as Don Lockwood, former principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, who was Tony-nominated for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in the Broadway transfer of the Adventures in Motion Pictures production of Swan Lake. Also in the company are Daniel Crossley, recently seen as Bill Snibson in Me and My Girl at Sheffield Crucible, and Scarlett Strallen, who most recently played Clara in the Donmar Warehouse production of Passion and has also played the title role in Mary Poppins both in the West End and on Broadway.

Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's 1979 Broadway musical Sweeney Todd will begin performances Sept. 24, prior to an official opening Oct. 6, for a run through Nov. 5 in the main house Festival Theatre. Jonathan Kent will direct a cast led by Michael Ball (original Marius in Les Miserables, Aspects of Love in the West End and on Broadway, Sondheim's Passion, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Hairspray in the West End) in the title role, and Imelda Staunton (Oscar nominee for Best Actress for "Vera Drake," and Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre and the Baker's Wife in the original London production of Into the Woods) as in Mrs. Lovett.

The Terence Rattigan season will be led by a new production of The Deep Blue Sea, beginning performances July 13, prior to an official opening July 25, for a run to Sept. 3 in the Festival Theatre. Philip Franks will direct. Rattigan's Nijinksy, based on a Rattigan television screenplay that was never produced or published, is a new play by Nicholas Wright, beginning performances July 19, prior to an official opening July 25, for a run to Sept. 3 in the Festival Theatre. In the play, the dying Rattigan meets Nijinsky's elderly widow, Romola, to fight over his play. Meanwhile, in the same room, Diaghilev and the young Romola fight over the tormented Nijinsky. It is also directed by Philip Franks. Rattigan's The Browning Version is to be staged in a double bill with the world premiere of David Hare's South Downs, beginning performances Sept. 2, prior to an official opening Sept. 14, for a run to Oct. 8 in the Minerva Theatre. The Browning Version is directed by Angus Jackson, and South Downs, written by Hare at the invitation of the Rattigan Trust as a response to The Browning Version, will be staged by Jeremy Herrin. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead will be directed by Trevor Nunn, beginning performances May 20, prior to an official opening May 31, in the Festival Theatre, for a run to June 11. Nunn previously directed Cyrano de Bergerac at Chichester in 2009.

Caryl Churchill's Top Girls will be directed by Max Stafford-Clark, beginning performances June 23, prior to an official opening June 30, for a run to July 16 in the Minerva Theatre. Stafford-Clark previously directed its premiere at the Royal Court in 1982 and its subsequent transfer to New York.

Eduardo De Filippo's The Syndicate (Il Sindaco Del Rione Sanità) will begin performances July 21, prior to an official opening Aug. 2, for a run to Aug. 20. Sean Mathias will direct Ian McKellen and Michael Pennington in the play that is being presented in a new version by Mike Poulton. McKellen plays Don Antonio, the Godfather making someone an offer they can't refuse in this dark comedy set in 1960s Naples.

Priority Booking for Friends of Chichester Festival Theatre opens Feb. 17, with online public booking from Feb. 28, and counter and telephone booking from March 3. To book tickets, contact the box office on 01243 781312, or visit

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