Kim Cattrall, KISS ME KATE, et al. Set for Chichester Festival Theatre in 2012

Chichester Festival Theatre celebrates its 50th birthday with an anniversary season that echoes and acknowledges the past while also looking to the future. Uncle Vanya was part of Chichester's very first season in 1962 and became a key part of its history and is revisited during Festival 2012. The Way of the World in 1984 has also become an emblematic production; the play will feature again this year.

Many of the actors and directors who have been such an important part of Chichester's recent success return during Festival 2012. Directors Philip Franks, Angus Jackson, Rachel Kavanaugh, Jonathan Kent and Trevor Nunn and actors Roger Allam, Henry Goodman, Penelope Keith and Michael Pennington all continue their close relationship with Chichester during this ambitious landmark season.

Distinguished actor Derek Jacobi will also feature during Festival 2012 in a production of Heartbreak House.

Alongside these links to Chichester's history, the commitment to developing new work remains equally important and Festival 2012 will feature two world premieres; A Marvellous Year for Plums by Hugh Whitemore and Canvas by Michael Wynne, as well as Surprises, a brand new play by Alan Ayckbourn, alongside his much-loved classic Absurd Person Singular.

New work will also feature in Theatre on the Fly, a temporary third auditorium which will be built on Oaklands Park, echoing the days of The Tent, the 1983 predecessor to the Minerva Theatre.

UNCLE VANYA by Anton Chekhov
Translated by Michael Frayn
30 March – 28 April, Minerva Theatre (Press Night: Thursday 5 April 7.00pm)

Director: Jeremy Herrin
Designer: Peter McKintosh
Sound Designer: Fergus O'Hare

Festival 2012 opens with a new production of the play that marked a turning point in the fortunes of the Festival Theatre during its first season in 1962.

For years Vanya and his niece have worked tirelessly to keep the family's run-down estate from ruin. The return of Vanya's brother-in-law and his captivating wife, coupled with the visits of the charismatic Doctor Astrov, bring old loyalties and new loves into conflict in Chekhov's masterly exploration of his characters' passions, hopes and desires.

Anton Chekhov's plays include The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters and The Seagull.
Michael Frayn has translated most of Chekhov's plays. His own work includes the plays Noises Off and Copenhagen, as well as the novels Spies and Headlong.

The cast features Roger Allam whose credits include Falstaff in Henry IV Parts I and II, for which he won the 2011 Olivier Award for Best Actor. In the same year, he received the Evening Standard Best Comedy Award for the film Tamara Drewe. He last appeared at Chichester in Pravda (Festival 06). Dervla Kirwan's theatre credits include Exiles and Aristocrats and Betrayal; while her television and film includes Ondine, The Silence and The Fuse. Timothy West's numerous theatre credits include The Collection, Quartet, King Lear and A Number. His screen credits include Exile, Bleak House, Iris and Endgame.

Jeremy Herrin directed South Downs for Festival 2011; the production transfers to the West End's Harold Pinter Theatre in April. He is Associate Director of The Royal Court Theatre where his credits include Haunted Child, The Heretic and That Face. Other credits include Absent Friends, Death and the Maiden and Much Ado About Nothing.

THE WAY OF THE WORLD by William Congreve
13 April – 5 May, Festival Theatre (Press Night: Friday 20 April 7.00pm)

Director: Rachel Kavanaugh
Designer: Paul Farnsworth
Lighting Designer: Howard Harrison
Music: Terry Davies
Sound Designer: Matt McKenzie

William Congreve's witty restoration comedy is a sparkling depiction of a superficial society in which love and money are inextricably linked. Mirabell sets out to marry Millamant but he must first outwit her aunt, the vain and fanciful Lady Wishfort.

Congreve's plays include The Double Dealer, The Old Bachelor, Love for Love and The Mourning Bride.

Penelope Keith plays Lady Wishfort in this delightful verbal battle of the sexes. Her previous appearances at Chichester include The Merry Wives of Windsor, Entertaining Angels, The Importance of Being Earnest, In Praise of Rattigan and The Rivals.
Rachel Kavanaugh's Chichester credits include Love Story, The Music Man and A Small Family Business. She was Artistic Director of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre until 2011.

11 May – 2 June, Festival Theatre (Press Night: Thursday 17 May 7.00pm)

Director: Philip Franks
Designer: Simon Higlett
Lighting Designer: James Whiteside
Music: Matthew Scott

Hugh Whitemore's sophisticated political thriller examines a flashpoint in British history that still resonates today - the Suez Crisis in 1956. As his health collapses, Prime Minister Anthony Eden faces the prospect of leading his country into war. Meanwhile his friends, colleagues and opponents deal with political and emotional crises of their own.

Hugh Whitemore's credits include Stevie, Pack of Lies, Breaking the Code, The Best of Friends, A Letter of Resignation, 84, Charing Cross Road and The Gathering Storm, which won an Emmy Award for Best Script, the American Writers' Guild Award and was named the Best Single Drama by the Broadcasting Press Guild in 2003.

Philip Franks' productions for Chichester include The Deep Blue Sea, Rattigan's Nijinsky, The Master Builder, Separate Tables, Collaboration, Taking Sides and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. He is also an actor.

18 May – 16 June, Minerva Theatre (Press Night: Thursday 24 May 7.00pm)

Director: Angus Jackson
Designer: Jonathan Fensom
Sound Designer: Gareth Fry

The world premiere of a new comedy which takes a witty look at the dilemmas and struggles of modern life.. Three couples attempt to get away from it all on a glamorous camping holiday but find that their rural idyll isn't so perfect after all.

Canvas is Michael Wynne's first play for Chichester. His last play, The Priory at The Royal Court Theatre, won the 2010 Olivier Award for Best Comedy. Other credits include The People are Friendly, and The Knocky (Royal Court Theatre), Sell Out and Dirty Wonderland (Frantic Assembly) and the recent Christmas film Lapland starring Sue Johnston.

Angus Jackson is Associate Director at Chichester where his credits include The Browning Version, Wallenstein, Funny Girl, The Waltz of The Toreadors, The Father and Carousel. His production of Bingo with Patrick Stewart, which premiered at Chichester during Festival 2010, opens at the Young Vic in February while The Browning Version transfers to the Harold Pinter Theatre in April. He has also directed Elmina's Kitchen, Fix Up, Rocket to the Moon and The Power of Yes for The National Theatre.

Music and lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Sam and Bella Spewack
18 June – 1 September, Festival Theatre (Press Night: Wednesday 27 June 7.00pm)

Director: Trevor Nunn
Designer: Robert Jones
Choreographer: Stephen Mear
Dance Arrangements, Musical Supervisor & Musical Director: Gareth Valentine
Lighting Designer: Tim Mitchell
Orchestrator: Chris Egan
Sound Designer: Paul Groothuis

This exuberant reworking of The Taming of the Shrew is a delightful collision between the worlds of gun-toting gangsters, sparring actors and Shakespeare's original characters. In a classic show-within-a-show, Lilli and Fred's romantic shenanigans offstage tangle with the onstage story of Kate and Petruchio.

Cole Porter's dazzling score is shot through with wit, charm and Broadway energy; it includes Too Darn Hot, Brush Up Your Shakespeare, Another Op'nin' , Another Show, So In Love Am I and Always True to You (In My Fashion).

Cole Porter's musicals include Anything Goes and Can-Can.

Trevor Nunn has directed some of the most critically acclaimed and popular musical and Shakespearean productions in recent decades. His musical credits include Porgy and Bess, My Fair Lady, The Woman in White, Les Misérables, Starlight Express and Cats. Other theatre credits include Flare Path, Rock 'n' Roll, King Lear, Hamlet and Macbeth. His Chichester credits are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which transferred to the West End in 2011, and Cyrano de Bergerac.

Stephen Mear has choreographed She Loves Me (which he also directed), The Music Man, Funny Girl and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying for Chichester. His West End credits include Mary Poppins, Hello, Dolly! and Crazy for You.

Trevor Nunn and Stephen Mear worked together on The National Theatre's xx year production of Cole Porter's Anything Goes which transferred for an extended run to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.


In a translation by George Tabori
29 June – 28 July, Minerva Theatre (Press Night: Wednesday 11 July 7.00pm)

Director: Jonathan Church
Designer: Simon Higlett
Lighting Designer: Tim Mitchell
Music: Matthew Scott

Chicago in the 1930s, the Great Depression – the perfect time for Arturo Ui and his mob of gangsters to run protection rackets for both workers and businesses. Soon Ui's menacing shadow looms large across the entire city as he strives to seize absolute power.

Written in 1941 just before the exiled Bertolt Brecht arrived in the USA, this violent, epic parable of the rise of Hitler is one of his most accessible plays, shot through with razor-sharp humour.
Brecht's work includes The Threepenny Opera (with Kurt Weill), The Life of Galileo, Mother Courage and Her Children, The Good Person of Szechuan and The Caucasian Chalk Circle.

Henry Goodman plays Arturo Ui, one of the richest and most demanding male characters in the contemporary dramatic canon. His credits include Festival 2010's Yes, Prime Minister, Copenhagen, The Holy Rosenbergs, Duet for One, Fiddler on the Roof, Performances, The Gondoliers, Feelgood, The Merchant of Venice, Chicago and Richard III.

Jonathan Church is Chichester Festival Theatre's Artistic Director. His credits for Chichester include Singin' in the Rain which transferred to the West End in February, The Critic and The Real Inspector Hound, The Grapes of Wrath, Pravda, Hobson's Choice, The Circle and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. His other credits include the Olivier Award-nominated Of Mice and Men.

6 July – 25 August, Festival Theatre (Press Night: Thursday 12 July 7.00pm)

Director Richard Clifford
Designer: Stephen Brimson Lewis
Lighting Designer: Tim Mitchell
Music: Jason Carr

On the brink of World War I, Ellie Dunn, her father and her fiancée attend a house party at the home of eccentric Captain Shotover. The guests are soon divided by Ellie's pragmatic decision to marry for money, not love. This witty exploration of morality, love and social mores features several strong and outspoken female characters and is regarded as one of Shaw's major plays.

Bernard Shaw's work includes Pygmalion, Mrs Warren's Profession, Arms and the Man, Candida, You Never Can Tell, Man and Superman and Major Barbara.

Derek Jacobi plays Captain Shotover. Theatre and film includes King Lear, Twelfth Night, My Week with Marilyn, The King's Speech and Gosford Park. Numerous credits at Chichester include Uncle Vanya, Playing the Wife, Hadrian VII, The RoyAl Hunt of the Sun and Saint Joan.

Richard Clifford directed Playing the Wife for Chichester in 1995. Other directing credits include The School for Scandal, The Game of Love and Chance and All's Well That Ends Well.
There will be a gala performance of Heartbreak House on Saturday 14 July to mark Chichester Festival Theatre's 50th anniversary.

SURPRISES by Alan Ayckbourn
8 August – 8 September
10 August – 8 September
Minerva Theatre (Press Night: Monday 13 August 2.00pm & 7.00pm)

Director Alan Ayckbourn
Designer: Michael Holt
Lighting Designer: Jason Taylor

Surprises is a new comedy set in the future while its characters hearts remain tied to the past. When a stranger materialises in young Grace's bedroom, is he really who he claims to be? Can there be everlasting love for Grace's parents when death is postponed indefinitely? Has infallible lawyer Lorraine finally found her ideal partner, and can her lonely secretary Sylvia also meet Mr Right after years of unhappy affairs?

Absurd Person Singular is an award-winning classic comedy of three couples facing three catastrophic Christmases as their attempts at social climbing create an increasing spiral of accidents and emotional crises.

Surprises is Alan Ayckbourn's 76th play in a career spanning over 50 years, while Absurd Person Singular was first staged in 1972. Ayckbourn recently became the first British playwright to receive both Olivier and Tony Special Lifetime Achievement Awards and was knighted for services to theatre in 1997. His work includes Man of the Moment, A Chorus of Disapproval, Woman in Mind, A Small Family Business, The Norman Conquests, Absent Friends and Relatively Speaking.
Surprises and Absurd Person Singular are co-productions with the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.

These two productions are part of the London 2012 Festival – a chance for everyone to celebrate London 2012 through dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation across the UK.

ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA by William Shakespeare
7 – 29 September, Festival Theatre (Press Night: Friday 14 September 7.00pm)

Director: Janet Suzman
Designer: Peter McKintosh
Lighting Designer: Peter Pyant
Music: Corin Buckeridge
Sound Designer: Sebastian Frost

Desire and duty collide in Shakespeare's captivating tragedy of politics, power and passion in which two charismatic leaders, Mark Antony of Rome and Cleopatra, Queen of Eygpt, are caught in an all-encompassing love that threatens the Empire.

Kim Cattrall plays Cleopatra. Perhaps best known for her memorable performance in the hit TV series, Sex and the City, she has also establishEd Strong stage credentials with credits that include Wild Honey (her Broadway debut alongside Ian McKellen), Private Lives, The Cryptogram and Whose Life is it Anyway? Film includes Meet Monica Velour, The Ghost, and Sex and the City I and 2.

Michael Pennington is a leading Shakespearean actor whose credits include extensive work with the RSC, as well as his own English Shakespeare Company. His Chichester credits include The Syndicate, The Master Builder, Collaboration and Taking Sides. Other work includes The Iron Lady, Judgement Day and Love is My Sin.

Janet Suzman's distinguished career as an actor and director includes her acclaimed performance in Antony and Cleopatra, as well as roles in Hedda Gabler and Dream of the Dog. Directing credits include the award-winning productions of the Johannesburg Othello, The Free State and Death of a Salesman.

Antony and Cleopatra is a co-production with Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse.

21 September – 27 October, Minerva Theatre (Press Night: Friday 28 September 7.00pm)

Director: Jonathan Kent
Designer: Anthony Ward
Lighting Designer: Mark Henderson
Sound Designer: Paul Groothuis

Amanda and Elyot, a rich and reckless divorced couple, meet five years after their marriage break-up – while on honeymoon with their new spouses. Passion reignited, they hurl themselves headlong into a relationship once more, without stopping to consider the consequences.

Widely considered to be his theatrical masterpiece, Private Lives fizzes with Noël Coward's trademark wit and dramatic precision. His plays include Hay Fever, Design for Living, Present Laughter and Blithe Spirit. His screenwriting credits include In Which We Serve (which he also co-directed) and Brief Encounter.

Anna Chancellor plays Amanda. Her theatre credits include Festival 2011's South Downs and The Browning Version, which transfer to the West End in April 2012, The Last of the Duchess (Hampstead Theatre), Creditors (Donmar Warehouse, BAM), and The Observer (National Theatre). Television and film credits include Pram Face, The Hour, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Pride and Prejudice.

Toby Stephens makes his debut at Chichester as Elyot, following in the illustrious footsteps of his parents, Maggie Smith and Robert Stephens, who both featured in several notable Festival Theatre productions. His theatre credits include Danton's Death, The Real Thing, A Doll's House and Coriolanus and on screen, Vexed, Jane Eyre and Die Another Day. More recently he has featured in Classic Chandler for BBC Radio 4.

Jonathan Kent has directed Sweeney Todd (which transfers to the West End's Adelphi Theatre in March) and A Month in the Country for Chichester. Other recent credits include The National Theatre production of Oedipus starring Ralph Fiennes and The Fairy Queen at Glyndebourne. He was Artistic Director of The Almeida Theatre for 12 years where his work included When We Dead Awaken, All For Love, Medea, The School For Wives and Gangster No. 1.

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre presents
A new adaptation by Rachel Barnett
27 July – 11 August, Oaklands Park/Theatre on the Fly

Director Dale Rooks
Music/Musical Director: Jeff Moore

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre tells the story of Noah's miraculous journey to the Ark in a fresh, colourful new adaptation full of original music, movement, masks and puppetry.
The first part of the performance will begin outside the Festival Theatre in Oaklands Park, before ticket holders will move to their seats in Theatre on the Fly.

Rachel Barnett's work has been performed in the UK and internationally at venues including Hampstead Theatre, The Royal Court Theatre, Theatre Royal Bath and Lyric Theatre Hammersmith.
Dale Rooks is Director of Chichester Festival Youth Theatre. Her productions include The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Firework-Maker's Daughter, Peter Pan and Toad of Toad Hall.
Suitable for children aged six and upwards.
More follows

Tickets £10 - £40, available online at or contact the Box Office on 01243 781312.
Once again Chichester Festival Theatre is working in partnership with The University of Chichester to offer reduced price tickets for the first three performances of all productions in the Festival Theatre. To book for The University of Chichester Festival Theatre Previews, go to or call the Box Office on 01243 781312.

Theatre at affordable prices is available through the Play Pass scheme, which gives those aged 16 – 25 the chance to buy tickets for just £7.50 for Previews and Press Nights on selected productions during Festival 2012. Terms and conditions apply. For more information and to join Play Pass, go to or call the Box Office on 01243 781312.

To celebrate Chichester Festival Theatre's 50th Anniversary, international best-selling author, playwright, broadcaster and Chichester resident, Kate Mosse has written Chichester Festival Theatre at Fifty. A love letter to the Theatre, drawing on in-depth interviews with many of the key men and women in its history – actors, directors, critics, board members, supporters, backstage staff – who have made Chichester Festival Theatre what it is today.
Price £28. Pre-order before 30 April at the special price of £25 from or call the Box Office on 01243 781312.

The RENEW project will cost about £22 million. West Sussex County Council and Chichester District Council have jointly pledged £2 million to the project, subject to a successful outcome of an application to the new Arts Council England capital funding programme. It is planned to launch a major fundraising campaign in April 2012 to safeguard the future of this Grade II * listed building, and maintain its positive regional economic impact, for many decades to come.

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