Plans announced by Duncan Weldon for his third season as director of the Sussex Festival stage include the ritual Hollywood star (last year Lauren Bacall) in a classical revival: This year she's Kathleen Turner starring in Maugham's Our Betters.
Kathleen Turner began previews Aug. 6 in W. Somerset Maugham's comedy Our Betters. Last seen on Broadway in Indiscretions, Turner is most well known for her work in films including The Accidental Tourist, War of the Roses and most recently A Simple Wish.
In Our Betters Turner makes her Chichester debut as Pearl, a wealthy American woman now married into British aristocracy and known as Lady George Grayston. Her beautiful, young sister Bessie Saunders, played by Sheri Graubert, is set to follow in her sisters footsteps until she sees the "fast-living and frivolity" of the society she is about to marry into. As Bessie debates marriage, she learns of her sister's reckless behavior and Pearl struggles to save her reputation.
Maugham is the author of several theatre classics including The Constant Wife, The Sacred Flame, The Circle and For Services Rendered.
In Our Betters, stage and television actress Rula Lenska plays the Duchess de Surennes with Barbara Jefford, in her second appearance this season, as Principessa di Cercola. Nigel Davenport plays Arthur Fenwick. Also in the cast are William Hootkins, Stephen Billington, Charles Edwards, Stanley Page, Nicholas Caunter and Paul Stewart. Michael Rudman directs, his third production this summer at Chichester. Set and costumes are by Simon Higlett with lighting by Joe Atkins and sound by John A. Leonard. Our Betters runs through Sept. 27.
Other highlights of the summer season will include a rare stage return (after almost 20 years) of Twiggy in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, Ian McShane as Barrie's The Admirable Crichton and a revival of Divorce Me Darling, Sandy Wilson's hitherto rather less successful sequel to his enchanting 1920's pastiche The Boy Friend.
The festival is in Oaklands Parks, north of Chichester in East Sussex. For tickets or more information call 01243 781312 (in North America dial 011 44 first and omit the first 0).
-- By Laura MacDonald and Sheridan Morley