Chichester honours Shaffer in 2014 festival season

Chichester Festival Theatre

The new season at Chichester Festival Theatre will soon get under way with Hugh Whitemore’s Stevie.

What else can we expect from the venue which reopens its main auditorium following a £22m

The first Festival Theatre production will be Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus directed by Jonathan Church with Rupert Everett as Salieri.

There will also be a celebration of Shaffer’s work at the heart of the season and a host of special events.

Three world premières – Pitcairn by Richard Bean, Pressure by David Haig and Taken At Midnight by Mark Hayhurst.

Two new adaptations: Miss Julie by Rebecca Lenkiewicz and The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Bryony Lavery.

Plus two major Broadway musicals to mark Festival Theatre reopening – Guys and Dolls and Gypsy.

Other leading actors appearing this year include Lynda Baron, Rosalie Craig, Clare Foster, David Haig, Dervla Kirwan, Chris Larkin, Jamie Parker, Peter Polycarpou, Patricia Routledge, Malcolm Sinclair, Sophie Thompson, Zoë Wanamaker and Penelope Wilton.

The Festival Theatre opens in July with a major new production of Amadeus featuring Rupert Everett as embittered court composer Salieri, and directed by Jonathan Church, CFT’s artistic director.

A celebration of Peter Shaffer’s work is a major thread running through the season.

His association with Chichester dates back to 1964 when The Royal Hunt of the Sun was commissioned by Laurence Olivier, the theatre’s first artistic director.

Black Comedy followed in 1965 and this glorious farce will be revisited in 2014.

Richard Bean, writer of the award-winning One Man, Two Guv’nors makes his Chichester debut with Pitcairn.

The drama explores the fallout from the mutiny on the Bounty with salty humour and growing horror.

It will be directed by Max Stafford-Clark, with whom Bean collaborated on The Big Fellah, and is a co-production with Out of Joint and Shakespeare’s Globe.

Pressure by David Haig – who also features in the cast, alongside Malcolm Sinclair – tells the little known true story of a Scottish meteorologist’s crucial role in determining the outcome of the 1944 June D-Day landings.

Taken At Midnight, by Mark Hayhurst, uncovers the harrowing true story of Hans Litten, a celebrated lawyer in 1930s Germany, who famously put Hitler on the witness stand, with devastating consequences.

The cast features Penelope Wilton as Litten’s mother.

Rebecca Lenkiewicz has written a new version of Miss Julie – the powerful exploration of sex, class and power by August Strindberg.

It will be paired with Black Comedy; this double bill originally premiered at Chichester starring Maggie Smith and Albert Finney.

The final premiere of the season will be Bryony Lavery’s new adaptation of The Hundred and One Dalmatians, performed by the Chichester Festival Youth Theatre.

The multi award-winning Guys and Dolls features Clare Foster as Sarah Brown, Jamie Parker as Sky Masterson, Peter Polycarpou as Nathan Detroit and Sophie Thompson as Miss Adelaide.

The hugely anticipated Gypsy will open in the autumn.

Imelda Staunton leads the cast as the indomitable Mama Rose. She is joined by Lara Pulver and Kevin Whately, who makes his Chichester début as Herbie.

Jonathan Church said: “We’re immensely proud of our new theatre and of the season that celebrates our year of transformation.

“As great writers, great directors and great performers are at the heart of what we do, I’m thrilled to present a programme distinguished by the finest dramatic writing, with new plays standing front and centre of our season.”

For full information go to cft.org.uk

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