The Chichester Festival Theatre has announced the programme for its Millennium Festival Season. The acclaimed annual season at the West Sussex theatre, which runs from May to October, often acts as a test-bed for productions which later transfer to London's West End. This year's season features, in the main theatre, four English comedies in English settings, by George Farquhar, George Bernard Shaw, Alan Ayckbourn and Tom Stoppard, and in the smaller Minerva Theatre, four contemporary plays as well as the now traditional musical revival.
The Festival Theatre schedule will kick off with Farquhar's racy 1706 comedy The Recruiting Officer, directed by James Kerr. Playing from 12 May, with previews from 10 May, until 15 July, this sex and corruption romp, set in Shrewsbury during the reign of Queen Anne, will run in repertoire with play two, Bernard Shaw's Heartbreak House, directed by Christopher Morahan. Shaw's 1920 classic, which is set on Sussex Downs, opens on 26 May, with previews from 24 May, and continues until 12 August.
Next up, Rachel Kavanaugh will direct Alan Ayckbourn's 1987 black farce A Small Family Business. Set in the Midlands, the comedy runs from 21 July to 30 September, with previews from 19 July. On 18 August, previews from 16 August, it's joined in repertoire by the final festival season production of Tom Stoppard's 1993 riddle about romanticism Arcadia , which continues until 7 October.
In the Minerva Theatre, the summer programme begins with Edward Bond's The Sea, directed by Sean Holmes, which runs from 13 June to 1 July, with previews from 7 June. It's followed by Loveday Ingram's new production of David Hare's The Blue Room, which caused shockwaves last year when, starring a semi-clad Nicole Kidman, it premiered at the Donmar Warehouse and later transferred to Broadway.
The third Minerva production will be Rodgers and Hart's classic musical Pal Joey, also directed by Ingram, which runs from 8 August to 2 September, with previews from 3 August. Holmes will direct the fourth production, Brian Friel's Aristocrats, running from 12 to 30 September with previews from 6 September. And the final Minerva play will be Terry Johnson's award-winning comedy Hysteria, directed by Ingram, which plays from 10 to 28 October, previews from 4 October.
Casting for the Festival Season productions will be announced later this month.