Chichester Festival Theatre’s 2017 season, the first under the new leadership of Daniel Evans and Rachel Tackley, embraces classic and contemporary plays and musicals.
Richard Wilson leads the cast in a revival of Alan Bennett’s Forty Years On, to be directed by Chichester’s new artistic director, Daniel Evans.
Oscar and Tony Award-winner Marcia Gay Harden makes her UK theatre debut with Brian J. Smith in Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth, directed by Jonathan Kent and Jonathan Munby directs King Lear with an ensemble cast including Ian McKellen.
Githa Sowerby’s The Stepmother, Ackbourn’s Norman Conquests trilogy are also included along with two musicals, Tony Kushner & Jeanine Tesori’s Caroline, Or Change starring Sharon D. Clarke and Fiddler on the Roof with Omid Djalili and Tracy-Ann Oberman.
Three new plays announced are Quiz by James Graham, directed by Daniel Evans, and The House They Grew Up In by Deborah Bruce, directed by Jeremy Herrin in a co-production with Headlong. Other highlights include Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls, the Chichester Youth Theatre’s production of Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales and a new adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.
Daniel Evans and Rachel Tackley said: “We are thrilled to introduce our first season at the helm of Chichester Festival Theatre. “It’s been a joy to put together a variety of work created by some of the most exciting artists in the country. “We’re delighted to welcome those who are new to Chichester, such as Marcia Gay Harden, Sharon D. Clarke, Omid Djalili and Edna O’Brien, and the many who are making return visits – among them Ian McKellen, Richard Wilson, Jonathan Kent and Richard Eyre. “We hope that everyone will find something to enjoy.”
FORTY YEARS ON, 21 April – 20 May, Festival Theatre. Alan Bennett’s first play is a hilarious and at times unnerving enquiry into Englishness, nostalgia and identity.
CAROLINE, OR CHANGE, 6 May – 3 June, Minerva Theatre This Olivier Award-winning musical mixes blues, soul, Motown, classical music and Jewish folk songs to create a beautiful, uplifting and deeply moving portrait of America at a time of momentous social upheaval spurred by the civil rights movement.
SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH, 2 – 24 June, Festival Theatre In his most searing and personal of plays, Tennessee Williams examines failed ambition, lost youth and love, and the corruption and bigotry that lurks beneath the American Dream.
THE COUNTRY GIRLS, 9 June – 8 July, Minerva Theatre
Edna O’Brien’s novel The Country Girls was controversially banned in Ireland on publication in 1960. From her much-loved book, she has created a new free-flowing play which is a frank, lyrical and wrenching exploration of young women, the loss of innocence and the tenacity of love and hope.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, 10 July – 26 August, Festival Theatre
This celebrated and much loved musical is packed with show-stopping songs including the hits If I Were A Rich Man, Tradition and Matchmaker. This new staging is directed by Daniel Evans, whose hit productions at Sheffield Theatres included Show Boat, My Fair Lady and Flowers for Mrs Harris.
THE HOUSE THEY GREW UP IN, 14 July – 5 August, Minerva Theatre A tender, dark and funny look at a co-dependent relationship between a brother and a sister, and how they cope when the world bursts in on them.
THE STEPMOTHER, 11 August – 9 September, Minerva Theatre
This gripping drama is a searing look at manipulation, money and matrimony. What price a woman’s autonomy within a man’s world?
KING LEAR, 22 September – 28 October, Minerva Theatre An explosive, charged and contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s epic masterpiece with Ian McKellen in the title role.
THE NORMAN CONQUESTS, 18 September – 28 October, Festival Theatre Alan Ayckbourn fashions the thwarted desires and bittersweet absurdity of family life into a classic comic masterpiece.
QUIZ, 3 November – 2 December, Minerva Theatre.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, December 16-31, Festival Theatre.