Jonathan Church and Alan Finch announce the Chichester Festival Theatre 2016 season – the last under their leadership as Artistic Director and Executive Director.

Festival 2016 marks Artistic Director Jonathan Church and Executive Director Alan Finch’s final season at Chichester Festival Theatre. Since assuming leadership in 2005, they have produced over 100 productions including 24 new plays, winning over 40 awards and more than doubling audience numbers.

Two highlights of Festival 2015 will be seen in London this year: Jonathan Kent’s staging of Young Chekhov transfers to the National Theatre from July, and Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild receives its London premiere at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in May. Guys and Dolls, originally produced in Festival 2014, will extend its West End life by transferring from the Savoy to the Phoenix Theatre in March and will simultaneously tour the UK. Jonathan Church’s hit 2011 production of Singin’ in the Rain tours South Africa and Australia. The Olivier Award-winning Goodnight Mister Tom completes another London season this week and tours the UK again until May 2016 with the Children’s Touring Partnership. David Hare’s The Judas Kiss, with Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde, is co-presented by CFT in Toronto and New York.

The Festival 2016 season sees the Chichester Festival debuts of directors Bertie Carvel, Christopher Luscombe, Jonathan Munby and Adrian Noble, while welcoming back Howard Davies, Jeremy Herrin, Rachel Kavanaugh and Richard Wilson. The acting company is led by Edward Bennett, James Bolam, Hugh Bonneville, Bryan Dick, Julian Glover, Patricia Hodge, Steven Pacey and Anne Reid.

Artistic Director Jonathan Church says: ‘If our final season has one theme it is the always urgent question of power: who has it, and who wants it. Whether the social dramas of Ibsen and Galsworthy or the dark comedy of Alistair Beaton’s new play FRACKED!, the pernicious effects of war in Mark Hayhurst’s new drama First Light and Rattigan’s classic Ross or the political upheavals of This House, these plays explore a century of power shifts and struggles. The lighter side of the search for fulfilment is explored in our two joyous musicals, Travels with My Aunt and Half A Sixpence.

‘Over the past 10 years we have welcomed directors and actors of the finest calibre, many making their Chichester debuts, and this season is no exception. It’s fitting to end the year once again with a new production from our brilliant Youth Theatre and the promise of a future generation.’

Executive Director Alan Finch adds: ‘Festival 2015 saw us break new records with over £6 million in box office sales. Our commitment to developing new audiences continues with Festival 2016. Once again, over 10,000 tickets will be available at £10 in the Festival Theatre and our £8.50 ticket scheme for 16 to 25 year olds is re-launched with a new name, Prologue.’



A new musical based on the novel by Graham Greene

Book by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman

Music by George Stiles Lyrics by Anthony Drewe

Directed by Christopher Luscombe

18 April – 4 June, Minerva Theatre

Retired bank manager Henry Pulling is happy alone with his dahlias until he meets his decidedly bohemian Aunt Augusta who, having rattled the family skeletons, persuades the reluctant Henry to flee to Europe. He finds himself in a luxurious whirl through Paris and Istanbul and on to South America; but alongside the romance and first-class thrills, there’s a lot Henry doesn’t know about his aunt – particularly why she has so many grateful men dotted around the globe.

Based on Graham Greene’s celebrated novel, this new musical has a book by Emmy Award-winning writers Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman and a score by the Olivier Award-winning team of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (Mary Poppins, Honk! and, later in Festival 2016, Half A Sixpence), all of whom previously collaborated on the musical Betty Blue Eyes.

Patricia Hodge plays Aunt Augusta. Her long association with Chichester encompasses The Mitford Girls, As You Like It and Calendar Girls; her recent television credits include several series of Miranda. 

Steven Pacey plays Henry; his previous Chichester appearances include Kent in King Lear; and in the West End, By Jeeves, The Admirable Crichton and Phantom of the Opera.

The cast also includes Stephanie Bron, Jack Chissick, Michael Duke, Nicholas Duncan, Sarah Earnshaw, Rachel Grundy, Hugh Maynard, Abiola Ogunbiyi, Jonathan Dryden Taylor, Sebastien Torkia and Jack Wilcox.

Director Christopher Luscombe’s RSC productions of Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing will be seen later in Festival 2016. His many credits include Dandy Dick with Patricia Hodge, Spamalot and The Rocky Horror Show; his production of Nell Gwynn for Shakespeare’s Globe has just transferred to the West End.

Travels with My Aunt is designed by Colin Falconer with choreography by Ewan Jones, orchestrations by Nicholas Skilbeck, musical direction by Mark Aspinall, lighting by Tim Mitchell and sound by Paul Groothuis.

For more information on the production, please Click Here.



In a version by Christopher Hampton

Directed by Howard Davies

22 April – 21 May, Festival Theatre

Dr Stockmann has made a shocking scientific discovery about the standards of sanitation at the popular local baths, which he insists must close immediately to rid them of pollution. But what about the impact on tourism and commerce, and the town’s reputation? His brother, the Mayor, has one drastic response. The local tradespeople and property owners have another. Does the liberal press dare to print the facts Dr Stockmann has uncovered and let the public make up their own minds?

Ibsen’s play is a searing examination of the intricate workings of power and influence, and an investigation into who holds real authority in society.

Hugh Bonneville returns to the stage to play Dr Stockmann. Known to a worldwide TV and film audience for the multi-award-winning Downtown Abbey, Twenty Twelve, W1A and Paddington, he last appeared at Chichester in The Handyman (1996). His earlier roles for the National Theatre included the title role in Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple and, for the RSC, Laertes to Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet. 

Howard Davies directed the lauded production of For Services Rendered for Festival 2015; he has received numerous Olivier, Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards for his many productions for the RSC, the National Theatre, in the West End and on Broadway.

An Enemy of the People will be designed by Tim Hatley, with lighting by Mark Henderson, music by Dominic Muldowney and sound by Mike Walker.

For more information on the production, please Click Here.


ROSS by Terence Rattigan

Directed by Adrian Noble

3 – 25 June, Festival Theatre

Arrogant, flippant, withdrawn and with a talent for self-concealment, Aircraftman Ross seems an odd recruit for the Royal Air Force. Behind the false name is an enigma, a man who started as a civilian in the Map Office in 1914. Despite never receiving an official commission, he went on to mastermind some of the most audacious military victories in the history of the British Army, including the 1916 Arab Revolt against the Turks. These victories earned him an enduring and romantic nom de guerre: Lawrence of Arabia.

Terence Rattigan’s 1960 play is an epic and probing drama which reveals the deeply conflicted Englishman behind the heroic legend.

Joseph Fiennes returns to Chichester to play T.E. Lawrence, following his appearance as Cyrano de Bergerac in 2009. His many films include Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth, Enemy at the Gates and Luther; his theatre work also includes Love’s Labour’s Lost (National Theatre), and Troilus and Cressida, The Herbal Bed and As You Like It (RSC).

Brought up in Chichester, Adrian Noble makes his Festival debut. He was Artistic Director of the RSC 1990-2003; recent productions include The Importance of Being Earnest and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the West End, and co-directing Kate Bush’s recent concert series Before the Dawn.

ROSS is designed by William Dudley, with lighting by Paul Pyant, music by Mia Soteriou and sound by Paul Groothuis.

For more information on the production, please Click Here.



A new play by Mark Hayhurst

Directed by Jonathan Munby

10 June – 2 July, Minerva Theatre

July 1916. Albert Ingham and Alfred Longshaw, two sharp and funny young soldiers from a battalion of the Manchester Pals, are about to take part in one of the most savage assaults in the history of human warfare, the Battle of the Somme. Overwhelmed by the sheer horror of what they have already experienced, neither of them dare stare extinction in the face again. So, when they are ordered to return to the blood-soaked front line, they take their fragile destiny in their own hands. But becoming a deserter takes more courage than they ever knew they had.

Mark Hayhurst’s new play exposes the impact of the First World War on soldiers and their families, and follows his acclaimed Chichester debut with Taken at Midnight which transferred to the West End last year.

Jonathan Munby makes his Festival debut at Chichester, having recently directed The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare’s Globe) and Wendy and Peter Pan (RSC).

First Light is designed by Paul Wills, with lighting by Tim Mitchell, music by Alex Baranowski, sound by Fergus O’Hare and movement by Danny McGrath.

For more information on the production, please Click Here.



Or: Please don’t use the F-Word

A new play by Alistair Beaton

Directed by Richard Wilson

8 July – 6 August, Minerva Theatre

Deerland Energy’s plans to drill for shale gas in the pretty village of Fenstock are going well, supported by distinguished scientists working in university departments funded by the energy companies. At local level, the chair of the Planning Committee seems open to lucrative offers. The only slight snag is a ragged band of protestors, reluctantly led by retired academic Elizabeth Blackwood. Surely she’s just another ‘mad old biddy’, as she’s characterised by Deerland’s ruthless PR guru?

This new black comedy by political satirist Alistair Beaton takes a timely look at the conflicted core of planetary energy and earthly power. His television work includes the BAFTA-nominated The Trial of Tony Blair; his plays include Feelgood in the West End and the revised version of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui for Chichester in 2012.

James Bolam’s previous Chichester appearances include Semi-Detached and How to Succeed in Business; his innumerable screen credits include, most recently, New Tricks.

Anne Reid, who plays Elizabeth, has a distinguished career in theatre, television and film, including Last Tango in Halifax, Marchlands, The Mother and Song for Marion; her most recent stage appearance was in Hedda Gabler at the Old Vic.

Richard Wilson is a former Associate Director of the Royal Court and currently an Associate Director at Sheffield Theatres, where he is directing Richard Bean’s new play The Nap. He is also well-known as an actor for the TV series Merlin and One Foot in the Grave.

The production will be designed by James Cotterill, with lighting by Johanna Town and sound by Ian Dickinson.

For more information on the production, please Click Here.



Based on the H.G.Wells novel Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul and the original musical by Beverley Cross and David Heneker

Book by Julian Fellowes | New music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe

Original songs by David Heneker

Co-Created by Cameron Mackintosh

Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh

14 July – 3 September, Festival Theatre

This new stage version of HALF A SIXPENCE, the musical adaptation of H.G. Wells’s novel Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul, is a completely fresh adaptation which reunites book-writer Julian Fellowes (Oscar-winning screenwriter and creator of Downton Abbey) with George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, the musical team that co-creator Cameron Mackintosh first put together to create the hit stage adaptation of Mary Poppins with Disney. The score is inspired by and features several of composer David Heneker’s exhilarating songs from the original production, including Flash Bang Wallop, Money To Burn and Half A Sixpence.

Arthur Kipps, an orphan and over-worked draper’s assistant at the turn of the last century, unexpectedly inherits a fortune that propels him into high society. His childhood companion, Ann Pornick, watches with dismay as Arthur is made over in a new image by the beautiful and classy Helen Walsingham. Both young women undoubtedly love Arthur – but which of them should he listen to? With the help of his friends, Arthur learns that if you want to have the chance of living the right life, you need to make the right choices.

Bryan Dick plays Arthur Kipps; his many television appearances include Ernie Wise in the widely praised TV drama Eric and Ernie, Wolf Hall and Capital; his stage credits include Mozart in Amadeus at Sheffield Theatres and The Alchemist at the National Theatre.

This will be director Rachel Kavanaugh’s sixth Chichester Festival production; her previous work here includes Love Story and The Music Man, while for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre she has directed Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and The Sound of Music.

Andrew Wright’s award-winning choreography includes Guys and Dolls, Singin’ in the Rain and Barnum for Chichester, and Mrs Henderson Presents in the West End.

HALF A SIXPENCE will be designed by Paul Brown, with choreography by Andrew Wright and orchestrations by William David Brohn. The musical supervisor will be Stephen Brooker, the co-musical supervisor and musical director will be Graham Hurman; with lighting by Paule Constable and sound by Mick Potter.

For more information on the production, please Click Here.


STRIFE by John Galsworthy

Directed by Bertie Carvel

12 August – 10 September, Minerva Theatre

1909, South Wales. The men of Trenartha Tinplate Works are on strike and the community is close to breaking point. Fearing their plummeting share price, most of the company’s board of directors are keen to reach a compromise but the Chairman, the elderly John Anthony, is resolute. The men are behind their firebrand leader, Roberts, but the union has withdrawn its support; how long before the men do too?

More than a hundred years after it was first performed, Galsworthy’s rarely staged play – voted one of the National Theatre’s 100 most influential plays of the 20th century – offers a strikingly balanced account of the political spectrum.

Julian Glover makes his Festival debut as John Anthony; recent work in his long career on stage and screen includes HBO’s Game of Thrones, John of Gaunt in Richard II for the RSC and The Scottsboro Boys at the Young Vic and in the West End.

Bertie Carvel makes his directorial debut at Chichester. As an actor, his recent roles include The Hairy Ape (Old Vic), Bakkhai (Almeida), Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and Doctor Foster (both BBC), and Matilda The Musical (RSC, West End and Broadway).

STRIFE will be designed by Robert Jones, with lighting by Rick Fisher.

For more information on the production, please Click Here.


THIS HOUSE by James Graham

Directed by Jeremy Herrin

The National Theatre production in association with Chichester Festival Theatre and Headlong

23 September – 29 October, Minerva Theatre

  1. The UK faces economic crisis and a hung parliament. It’s a period when votes in the House of Commons are won or lost by one, when there are fist fights in the bars and when sick MPs are carried through the lobby to register their vote. Set in the engine rooms of Westminster, THIS HOUSE strips politics down to the practical realities of those behind the scenes: the whips who roll up their sleeves and on occasion bend the rules to shepherd and coerce a diverse chorus of MPs within the Mother of all Parliaments.

James Graham’s work includes The Vote at the Donmar Warehouse, broadcast live on election night, and Coalition for Channel 4. THIS HOUSE had two sell-out runs at the National, where it opened at the Cottesloe Theatre in 2012 before transferring to the Olivier, and was broadcast internationally by NT Live. 

Jeremy Herrin is Artistic Director of Headlong. He has previously directed Uncle Vanya, Another Country and South Downs at Chichester; his stage work also includes Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies for the RSC in London and New York.

THIS HOUSE reunites the original NT creative team, with design by Rae Smith, lighting design by Paule Constable, choreography by Scott Ambler, music by Stephen Warbeck and sound design by Ian Dickinson.

For more information on the production, please Click Here.



By William Shakespeare

The Royal Shakespeare Company productions in association with Chichester Festival Theatre

Directed by Christopher Luscombe

24 September – 29 October, Festival Theatre

Shakespeare’s great romantic comedies LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING were first paired in an innovative doubling to great acclaim in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2014 and are now presented at Chichester in collaboration with the RSC. At the end of Love’s Labour’s Lost two sparring lovers, Berowne and Rosalind, are separated; at the start of Much Ado About Nothing (or Love’s Labour’s Won), two sparring lovers, Benedick and Beatrice, meet again after a long absence. The productions are set either side of the First World War: Love’s Labour’s Lost conjures up the carefree elegance of a pre-war Edwardian summer, while in post-war Much Ado About Nothing, the world has changed forever with the roaring ‘20s just around the corner.


Love’s Labour’s Lost

Summer 1914. In order to dedicate themselves to a life of study, the King and his friends take an oath to avoid the company of women for three years. No sooner have they made their idealistic pledge than the Princess of France and her ladies-in-waiting arrive, presenting the men with a severe test of their high-minded resolve.

Shakespeare’s sparkling comedy mischievously suggests that the study of the opposite sex is the highest of all academic endeavours. Only at the end of the play is the merriment curtailed as the lovers agree to submit to a period apart, unaware that the world around them is about to be utterly transformed by the war to end all wars.

For more information on the production, please Click Here.


Much Ado About Nothing or Love’s Labour’s Won

Winter 1918. A group of soldiers returns from the trenches. The world-weary Benedick and his friend Claudio find themselves reacquainted with Beatrice and Hero. As memories of conflict give way to a life of parties and masked balls, Claudio and Hero fall in love, while Benedick and Beatrice reignite their own altogether more combative courtship.

Shakespeare’s comic romance (possibly known in his lifetime as Love’s Labour’s Won) plays out amidst the brittle high spirits of a post-war house party, as youthful passions run riot, lovers are deceived and happiness is threatened – before peace ultimately wins out.

A 22-strong ensemble company performs in both plays. Edward Bennett plays Berowne and Benedick; his stage work includes The Rehearsal at Chichester, Photograph 51 (Michael Grandage Company, West End), and Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the RSC. 

The productions are designed by Simon Higlett with lighting by Oliver Fenwick, music by Nigel Hess, sound by Jeremy Dunn and choreography by Jenny Arnold.

For more information on the production, please Click Here.


Chichester Festival Youth Theatre presents

PETER PAN by J.M. Barrie

Directed by Dale Rooks

17 – 31 December, Festival Theatre

One thrilling evening, Peter Pan – the maverick boy who refuses to grow up – teaches Wendy, John and Michael Darling how to fly and whisks them off to Never Land. There they encounter a company of lost boys, mysterious mermaids, a gang of swashbuckling pirates and their leader, the villainous Captain Hook.

With Chichester Festival Youth Theatre, director Dale Rooks has been presenting captivating productions for over a decade, including the Christmas show in the Festival Theatre. In 2015, CFYT received the UK Theatre Award for Best Show for Children and Young People for Running Wild.

On Friday 30 December at 2pm, there will be a Relaxed Performance of PETER PAN, especially suitable for groups and families with children on the autistic spectrum, sensory and communication disorders or anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed theatre environment.

Set design for PETER PAN will be by Simon Higlett with costumes by Ryan Dawson Laight, lighting by James Whiteside and sound by Gregory Clarke.

For more information on the production, please Click Here.


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