Chichester Festival Theatre’s sparkling diamond Festival 2022

Chichester Festival Theatre’s sparkling Festival 2022, celebrating 60 years of landmark theatre, has been announced today. 

Six premieres, five new plays – including three delayed from 2020 – three top flight musicals and three major co-productions will be staged.

The Taxidermist’s Daughter

Artistic director, Daniel Evans and the theatre’s executive director, Kathy Bourne said: 

“‘Festival 2022 places compelling stories front and centre: joyful, gripping, uplifting and  provocative. 

“They teem with 21st century teenagers and 1930s showgirls; London football fans  and Scottish environmentalists; Edwardian feminists fighting for justice and American politicians  struggling for dominance. 

“A celebrated sleuth, an Anglican vicar, a troubled housewife and  overly-polite middle Englanders all have their battles to fight, while ‘the Famous Five’ and Mole,  Ratty and Toad go seeking adventure.  

“After a challenging  couple of years, we are all surely in need of a celebration”. 

Among the highlights are: Henry Goodman returns to Chichester to play Poirot in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, adapted by Ken Ludwig and directed by Jonathan Church; and Nicole Charles recreates her acclaimed Chichester production of Roy Williams’s Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads in the Minerva Theatre.

The Southbury Child

Crazy For You sees the return of Charlie Stemp leading the company; Alan Ayckbourn’s Woman In Mind is directed by Justin Martin;∙ and Chichester Festival Youth Theatre present Alan Bennett’s adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind In The Willows with music and additional lyrics by Jeremy  Sams, for Christmas.

THE TAXIDERMIST’S DAUGHTER (April 8-30, Festival Theatre). Adapted for the stage by Kate Mosse and based on her novel. 

A story of retribution and justice, The Taxidermist’s Daughter is a thrilling Gothic mystery set in  and around historic Chichester. 

1912. In the isolated Blackthorn House on Sussex’s Fishbourne Marshes, Connie Gifford lives  with her father. His Museum of Avian Taxidermy was once legendary, but since its closure  Gifford has become a broken man, taking refuge in the bottle. 

Robbed of her childhood memories by a mysterious accident, Connie is haunted by fitful  glimpses of her past. 

Our Generation

The cast includes Geoff Aymer, Pearl Chanda (as Cassie), William Chubb, Tim Frances, Daisy Prosper (as Connie), Forbes Masson, Taheen Modak, Akai Osei, Alastair Parker, Raad Rawi, Howard Saddler, Posy Sterling and Connie Walker. 

OUR GENERATION (April 22-May 14, Minerva Theatre) A new play by Alecky Blythe, directed by Daniel Evans and a co-production with the National Theatre. 

Alecky Blythe’s panoramic new verbatim play tells the stories of a generation. Created from  five years of interviews with 12 young people from all four corners of the UK, Our Generation is  a captivating portrait of their teenage years as they journey into adulthood. 

The cast is Dee Ahluwalia, Joe Bolland, Anna Burnett, Anushka Chakravarti, Debbie  Chazen, Gavi Singh Chera, Rachelle Diedericks, Hasan Dixon, Hélder Fernandes, Sarita  Gabony, Conor Gormally, Alex Jarrett, Callum Mardy, Poppy Shepherd and Stephanie  Street, who returns to Chichester where she played Diana Ingram in Quiz in 2017. 

The Unfriend

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (May 13-June 4, Festival Theatre; Theatre Royal Bath from June 9 – 25). Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit sees Henry Goodman return to play Hercule Poirot following his appearances at Chichester in Yes, Prime Minister (2010) and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (2012/13).

THE UNFRIEND (May 21-July 9, Minerva Theatre). A new play by Steven Moffat, directed by Mark Gatiss and starring Amanda Abbington, Frances Barber and Reece Shearsmith. 

The Unfriend takes a hugely entertaining and satirical look at middle-class England’s disastrous  instinct always to appear nice. Manners can be murder.

The cast also includes Maddie Holliday and Michael Simkins, whose CFT appearances  include Fracked! and Yes Prime Minister.  

THE SOUTHBURY CHILD (June 13-25, Festival Theatre; Bridge Theatre: July 1 – August 27). A new play by Stephen Beresford, starring Alex Jennings and directed by Nicholas Hytner. A co-production with The Bridge Theatre. 

Crazy For You

Stephen Beresford’s very funny new play is a deeply humane exploration of family, faith,  tradition and tolerance in a rapidly changing world. 

Sharp-witted, wilful and frequently drunk, David Highland has kept a grip on his parish through  a combination of disordered charm and high-handed determination. But when his conscience  forces him to take a hard line with a parishioner who wants Disney balloons at a family funeral,  he finds himself dangerously isolated from public opinion. 

The cast also includes Holly Atkins, Josh Finan, Jack Greenlees, Jo Herbert, Phoebe  Nicholls, Racheal Ofori and Sarah Twomey. 

CRAZY FOR YOU (July 11 – Sept 4, Festival Theatre). Music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, Book by Ken Ludwig; direction and choreography by Susan Stroman

This hilarious, riotously entertaining musical is packed with glorious Gershwin melodies  (including Someone to Watch Over Me, Embraceable You, I Got Rhythm and They Can’t Take  That Away from Me), and its stunning tap-dance routines are guaranteed to set the spirits  soaring. 

Woman In Mind

This brand new production, which celebrates the work’s 30th anniversary, is directed and  choreographed by Susan Stroman: true Broadway royalty and winner of five Tony and two  Olivier Awards for productions including The Producers, Contact and The Scottsboro Boys. 

Charlie Stemp returns to Chichester where he played Arthur Kipps in the award-winning Half A  Sixpence in 2016.

SING YER HEART OUT FOR THE LADS (July 22 – Aug 13, Minerva Theatre). 

Nicole Charles’s much-praised production, which earned critical and public acclaim when it  was staged in Chichester’s Spiegeltent in 2019, returns for a run in World Cup and Women’s  Euro year in the Minerva Theatre, part of which will be transformed into a pub setting to create  an immersive theatrical experience. 

Murder On The Orient Express

Premiered at the National Theatre in 2002, Roy Williams’s ferocious, funny and disturbing play  takes aim at what it means to be black, white and English in twenty-first century Britain.

Scoring high on foul language, threat and vulgar humour, Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads is definitely  not for the faint of heart.  

Original cast members Kirsty J Curtis, Jennifer Daley, Michael Hodgson and Mark  Springer return, with further casting to be announced. 

THE NARCISSIST (August 26-Sept 24, Minerva Theatre) A new play by Christopher Shinn, directed by Josh Seymour.

The Narcissist is a gripping, inventive and witty take on personal and political communication in  the internet age.  

WOMAN IN MIND (Sept 23 – Oct 15, Festival Theatre). Alan Ayckbourn’s dazzling black comedy takes us on a dizzying journey through the looking  glass into a woman’s mind. 

LOCAL HERO (Oct 8-Nov 19, Minerva Theatre) Book by David Greig, Music and Lyrics by Mark Knopfler and based on the Bill Forsyth film. Directed by Daniel Evans, 

Local Hero

This new musical version of Local Hero will win devotees from admirers of the beloved film as well as those coming fresh to this funny and enchanting story.

THE FAMOUS FIVE (Oct 21-Nov 12, Festival Theatre; Theatr Clwyd: Sept 23 – Oct 15). Music & lyrics by Theo Jamieson, Book by Elinor Cook. Based on books by Enid Blyton, directed by Tamara Harvey. A co-production with Theatr Clwyd 

Based on Enid Blyton’s multi-million-selling novels, this brand new musical is an exciting and heart-warming family treat celebrating adventure, bravery and friendship for everyone aged 7+. 

THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS (Dec 17-31, Festival Theatre) Alan Bennett’s stage adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 story, originally seen at the  National Theatre, has become a classic in its own right: faithful to the spirit of Grahame’s  immortal characters while laced with Bennett’s inimitable wit, making this a delight for children and adults alike. 

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