Chichester stages revivals of Barnum, Pajama Game & Another CountryDate: 21 February 2013
Chichester Festival Theatre (CFT) has announced details of its 2013 season, which will see productions staged in both the Minerva Theatre and a new temporary venue as a £22million restoration project continues on the Festival Theatre.
The 'state-of-the-art' Theatre in the Park auditorium will open, as previously reported, with a major revival of the musical Barnum in association with Cameron Mackintosh. This will be followed by a revival of Neville's Island by Tim Firth.
The Minerva will also host a return of the 2012 production of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (ahead of a West End transfer), the world premiere of David Edgar's political drama If Only and a revival of Julian Mitchell's Another Country.
Theatre in the Park
Mirroring the Festival Theatre's auditorium, the purpose-built temporary building will house 1,400 seats and a thrust stage. It will be located "just a few minutes' stroll" across Oaklands Park from the Festival Theatre site.
It opens on 24 July (previews from 15 July) with the long-rumoured revival of Barnum, using a revised version by Cameron Mackintosh and Mark Bramble.
Cy Coleman's classic Broadway musical follows the irrepressible imagination and dreams of Phineas T Barnum, America's "Greatest Showman", who will be played by rising star Christopher Fitzgerald (Wicked on Broadway).
Running til 31 August, the production is directed by Open Air Theatre's Timothy Sheader and co-directed and choreographed by Liam Steel (Into the Woods) and recent Whatsonstage.com Award-winner Andrew Wright (Singin' in the Rain)
The 1992 comedy centres on four out-of-condition, middle-aged businessmen, who are sent off on a team-building exercise and succeed in becoming the first people ever to get shipwrecked on an island in the Lake District.
In the Minerva
The Festival season opens, from 29 April to 8 June (previews from 22 April) with Richard Eyre's revival of The Pajama Game. The 1954 musical, which features words and music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross and a book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell, is based on Bissell's novel 7̐½ Cents.
Love is in the air at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory as handsome new Superintendent Sid Sorokin (Hadley Fraser) falls head-over-heels for firebrand Union rep Babe Williams (Joanna Riding). But when the employees are refused a seven-and-a-half cents an hour raise, sparks fly and the couple find themselves at odds.
Next up, from 20 June to 27 July (previews from 14 July), is the premiere of David Edgar's Coalition drama If Only (see poster image). Directed by Angus Jackson (Goodnight Mister Tom), the play is set the day after the first prime ministerial debate in 2010.
Stranded in Malaga Airport by the Icelandic ash-cloud, a Labour special advisor, a Lib Dem staffer and a Tory candidate consider their options. Can their parties survive without them? How will they get home? And who'll end up in government?
Edgar's previous plays include Destiny, Pentecost and Written on the Heart for the RSC and The Shape of the Table and Playing with Fire for the National Theatre. His multi award-winning RSC adaptation of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby was revived by Chichester in 2006, followed by his new version of Ibsen's The Master Builder in 2010.
It's followed, from 15 August to 14 September, by a return for 2012's hit production of Brecht's The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui, directed by Chichester artistic director Jonathan church and starring Henry Goodman. The production will transfer to the West End's Duchess Theatre following the run.
And rounding off the season in the Minerva is Jeremy Herrin's new production of Another Country by Julian Mitchell, which runs from 24 September to 19 October 2013 (previews from 18 September).
Set in a 1930s English public school, the play, a fictionalised account of the youth of such people as the spy Guy Burgess and the Communist John Cornford, centres on two outsiders, one coming to terms with his homosexuality, the other already a committed Marxist.
Herrin directed Uncle Vanya for Chichester during Festival 2012. He also directed South Downs for Chichester's Festival 2011, which transferred to the West End in 2012.
Priority booking for CFT's 2013 season opens on 26 February, with tickets on general sale from 7 March.
Looking ahead - Chekhov, Gypsy & Dolls
Church revealed today that one of the first productions in the newly refurbished Festival Theatre could be a trilogy of Chekhov's early plays - Platonov, Ivanov and The Seagull - directed by Jonathan Kent (Sweeney Todd, Private Lives).
David Hare, who last year wrote South Downs to accompany Rattigan's The Browning Version, is working on a new version of The Seagull, and the three productions would be performed by a single ensemble.
Church also revealed today that three major musicals are currently in development - Gypsy (starring recent Whatsonstage.com Award-winner Imelda Staunton), Guys and Dolls and a new stage version of classic Fred Astaire film A Damsel in Distress. For more info read our gossip story here.