Chichester Festival Season to Feature Kendal, Britton, Rigg and Williams

News   Chichester Festival Season to Feature Kendal, Britton, Rigg and Williams
Chichester Festival Theatre has announced the first productions of its newly extended season with an announcement of the full season to follow in mid-February.
Diana Rigg
Diana Rigg Photo by Andrew Crowley

Felicity Kendal, Nicholas Le Prevost and Jasper Britton will star in a stage adaptation of Simon Gray's memoir The Last Cigarette in the Minerva studio. That will be followed by the return of Ronald Harwood's double-bill — Taking Sides and Collaboration, both seen there last year — with Michael Pennington and David Horovitch. In the main house, Diana Rigg and Simon Williams will star in a revival of Noel Coward's Hay Fever.

Performances for The Last Cigarette, that the late Gray has himself adapted with fellow playwright Hugh Whitemore, will begin March 11 for a run to April 11, in a production directed by Richard Eyre featuring Felicity Kendal, Nicholas Le Prevost and Jasper Britton. Kendal was seen on the London stage last year in a revival of Noel Coward's The Vortex, and in 2006 starred in a West End revival of David Hare's Amy's View. Le Prevost was last seen on the London stage in the title role of Peter Hall's production of Uncle Vanya at the Rose Theatre, Kingston; other appearances in the West End include Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady and Benedick in an RSC Much Ado About Nothing. Britton was seen last year in the original production of Nicholas de Jongh's Plague over England at the Finborough and in Fram at the National; he is appearing in Hampstead Theatre's production of Private Lives Jan. 22-Feb. 28. Eyre, a former artistic director of the National Theatre, is returning there to direct Matt Charman's new play The Observer in May. The production will be designed by Rob Howell (The Norman Conquests at the Old Vic, The Lord of the Rings at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane) and lit by John Driscoll.

The Last Cigarette will be followed in the Minerva by the return of Ronald Harwood's pair of companion plays, Taking Sides and Collaboration, that are separate works designed to complement each other. They both explore the fine line between collaboration and betrayal during the Second World War. First seen together at Chichester's Minerva Theatre last year, they will return for a run April 28-May 16, prior to an expected West End transfer. The same cast will appear again, headed by Michael Pennington as Wilhelm Furtwängler and Richard Strauss and David Horovitch as Stefan Zweig and Major Arnold, respectively. The two plays are directed by Philip Franks, designed by Simon Higlett with lighting by Mark Jonathan, soundtrack by Matthew Scott and sound by John Leonard.

Diana Rigg, who last year appeared at Chichester Festival Theatre as Madame Ranevskaya in a production of The Cherry Orchard, returns to the main house to appear as Judith Bliss in Noel Coward's Hay Fever, which begins performances April 9 for a run to May 2. Rigg was last seen on the London stage in the theatrical version of Almodovar's All About My Mother that ran at the Old Vic in 2007. Other stage appearances in recent years include runs at the National in Humble Boy and Honour. Starring opposite her as her husband David Bliss is veteran actor Simon Williams (best known for his TV appearances in "Upstairs Downstairs," "Don't Wait Up" and "Holby City." The production will be directed by Nikolai Foster (currently represented by the touring production of The Witches of Eastwick) and designed by Robert Jones.

Booking for CFT Friends members opens Jan. 23, with general booking from Jan. 30. To book tickets contact the box office at 01243 781312 or visit

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