Elements of the season have been designed to echo the early days of the theatre. Uncle Vanya was part of the theatre's opening season in 1962 and will be staged again, as will The Way of the World, previously seen at Chichester in a famous 1984 production that featured Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith and now starring Chichester regular Penelope Keith. Smith's son Toby Stephens will appear in a new production of Private Lives. Derek Jacobi, who appeared as part of Laurence Olivier's second company at Chichester in 1963, will return to star in Shaw's Heartbreak House.
The season opens in the main house Festival Theatre with Penelope Keith starring in Congreve's The Way of the World, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, running April 13-May 5. It is followed by the world premiere of Hugh Whitemore's A Marvellous Year for Plums, directed by Philip Franks, running May 11-June 2, which is described in publicity materials as a suspenseful thriller, romantic love story and examination of a flashpoint in history. Set in 1956, it revolves around the then-UK Prime Minister Anthony Eden's handling of the Suez Crisis.
Trevor Nunn, who last year directed Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead for the theatre that subsequently transferred to the West End's Theatre Royal, Haymarket, will next direct a new production of Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate, running June 18-Sept. 1, with choreography by Stephen Mear.
Derek Jacobi will star in Shaw's Hearbreak House, directed by Richard Clifford, running July 6-Aug. 25, then Michael Pennington and Kim Cattrall play the title roles in Antony and Cleopatra, directed by Janet Suzman, who also directed Cattrall last year in the play at Liverpool Playhouse with a different leading man, running Sept. 7-29.
The season opens in the studio Minerva Theatre, with Jeremy Herrin directing a cast that includes Roger Allam, Dervla Kirwan and Timothy West in Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, running March 30-April 28. Other productions to follow in the Minerva include the world premiere of Michael Wynn's Canvas, directed by Angus Jackson, running May 18-June 16, then Chichester's artistic director Jonathan Church will direct Henry Goodman in Brecht's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, running June 29-July 28. In August, the Minerva will host the world premiere production of Alan Ayckbourn's 76th play Surprises, in rep with a revival of his 1972 classic Absurd Person Singular, both directed by the author and running in rep Aug. 8-Sept. 8. Finally, Jonathan Kent, who last year directed Sweeney Todd at Chichester that transfers to the West End's Adelphi Theatre in March, returns to direct Anna Chancellor and Toby Stephens in Noel Coward's Private Lives, running Sept. 21-Oct. 27.
Priority booking for Chichester Friends opens Feb. 13, with online booking for all from Feb. 23 and telephone/counter bookings from Feb. 27. To book tickets, contact the box office on 01243 781312, or visit www.cft.org.uk for more details.