General booking now open for the 2019 Chichester Festival Theatre summer season

John Simm will be Macbeth
John Simm will be Macbeth

General booking opens this weekend for the 2019 Chichester Festival Theatre summer season.

Online booking begins on Saturday, March 2 followed by phone and in-person booking from Tuesday, March 5 (cft.org.uk and 01243 781312).

The season, the third from Chichester Festival Theatre artistic director Daniel Evans, opens with Daniel’s own production of This Is My Family, a musical by Tim Firth, in the Minerva, running from April 20-June 15.

The main-house season gets under way with Shadowlands by William Nicholson, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, running from April 26-May 25 – a production which will see a return to the CFT stage for Hugh Bonneville following his acclaimed performance in An Enemy of the People three years ago.

Next up on the main-house stage will be Plenty by David Hare, directed by Kate Hewitt, June 7-29. Susan Traherne is a former secret agent. Her heroic work with the Special Operations Executive in Nazi-occupied France brought her extremes of danger, as well as adventures and romance.

Then comes the big summer musical, Oklahoma! music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, directed by Jeremy Sams, running on the main-house stage from July 15-September 7. Handsome cowboy Curly McLain is head over spurs for local farm owner Laurey Williams. But lonely ranch-hand Jud Fry has his sinister sights set on her too…

“The musical is an opportunity for us during the summer when the weather is glorious to really reach out and broaden our audience,” Daniel said. “You really do see a different audience. We get coach trips from a radius which goes much further.

“And thank goodness for escapism. This is the musical by which all other musicals are judged. It really set the bar about how music and dialogue are matched together. This is the musical which really honed the craft.”

It used to be a staple for the amdrams, but these days the amateurs are much more likely to opt for something such as Annie or Little Shop of Horrors.

“It’s odd how these things tend to go in phases, but our feeling was let’s look again at Oklahoma! and we are really excited to be collaborating with Jeremy Sams.”

Taking Chichester Festival Theatre into the autumn will be Shakespeare’s Macbeth, directed by Paul Miller, from September 21-October 26, again on the main-house stage. John Simm, perhaps best known for his TV role in Life on Mars as Sam Tyler, makes his Chichester debut in the title role. Dervla Kirwan returns.

“John is also a brilliant Shakespearean actor. He played Hamlet for us in Sheffield, and he has wanted to play Macbeth for a while. He and Dervla know each other from the series that they have just done together on television, and it is brilliant that Paul Miller, who is Chichester born and bred but has never worked here before, will be directing.”

Other productions include:

The Deep Blue Sea by Terence Rattigan, directed by Paul Foster, June 21-July 27, Minerva Theatre. 1951. In a shabby Ladbroke Grove flat, Hester Collyer’s neighbours find her unconscious; she has taken an overdose in front of the gas fire.

8 Hotels, a new play by Nicholas Wright, directed by Richard Eyre. August 1-24, Minerva Theatre. 1944. America. Celebrated actor, singer and political campaigner Paul Robeson – forever associated with Ol’ Man River – is touring the country as Shakespeare’s Othello.

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