Joss Ackland, Clare Higgins, Nigel Planer, Issy van Randwyck and Anna Carteret headline the casts in this year's Chichester Festival season, which runs from May to October 2000 at the West Sussex theatre.

Ackland, Carteret and Higgins can all be seen together in Christopher Morahan's production of George Bernard Shaw's 1920 classic, Heartbreak House, which runs from 24 May to 12 August. Ackland plays Captain Shotover, Carteret plays Lady Utterword and Higgins is Hesione Hushabye. Veteran stage actor Ackland was seen last year on tour and in the West End in the revival of D L Coburn's The Gin Game. Carteret, who is perhaps best known to TV audiences as Juliet Bravo, was a regular in the West End during Sir Peter Hall's recent repertory seasons. In 1994, Higgins won both the London Critics Circle Award and the Olivier for Best Actress for her performance in Sweet Bird of Youth.

Planer leads the cast in the Chichester season's third production, Alan Ayckbourn's 1987 farce, A Small Family Business. Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, it runs from 19 July to 30 September. Planer, who plays Jack McCracken, is best known as the dippy hippy Neil in the cult TV show The Young Ones, but was seen most recently on stage in the West End production of Chicago. Planer is joined in A Small Family Business by ex-Fasinating Aida star Issy van Randwyck who will simultaneously appear in the final Chichester production, Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, directed by Peter Wood, which runs in repertory from 16 August to 7 October 2000.

The cast for the season's first production, George Farquhar's 1706 comedy, The Recruiting Officer, are Alec Newman, Andrew Lancel, Debra Gillett, Caroline Catz, Nicholas Le Prevost, Tom Georgeson, Steven Speirs, Katharine Burford, Nicolas Tennant, Russell Tovey and Natalie Walter. The Recruiting Officer, which runs 10 May to 15 July, is directed by James Kerr.

The rest of the Heartbreak House cast are Christopher Benjamin, Arthur White, Timothy Davies, Robert East, Mark Kingston, Eleanor McCready and Susannah Wise. Joining Planer and van Randwyck in A Small Family Business are Serena Evans, Claire Carry, Daniel Flynn, Peter Forbes, Damien Goodwin and Damien Matthews. And finally, the full cast for Arcadia features Robert Hands, Pascal Langdale, Eleanor David, Beth Chalmers and Laura Howard.

The Chichester Festival Season, the acclaimed repertory fixture on the annual theatre calendar, often acts as a test-bed for productions which later transfer to London's West End.