Further casting has been announced in Chichester Festival’s ongoing summer season, the third under artistic director Jonathan Church (See News, 21 Feb 2008). Amongst those who have now joined the line-up – which has already seen Diana Rigg, Maureen Lipman and Samantha Spiro tread the West Sussex boards this summer, with Brian Conley, Robert Lindsay, Susan Hampshire and Michael Pennington already confirmed still to appear – for upcoming productions are Ian McDiarmid (pictured), Patricia Hodge, Lynda Bellingham, Brigit Forsyth, Jenny Galloway, Isla Blair and Noma Dumezweni.

Festival Theatre

The next new production in CFT’s main house is Rachel Kavanaugh’s revival of Meredith Wilson’s 1961 Broadway musical The Music Man, which runs from 3 July to 30 August 2008 (previews from 23 June) and stars Brian Conley as fraudster Professor Harold Hill and Scarlett Strallen as Marian Paroo, the librarian who falls for Hill’s charms even though she knows he’s a charlatan.

Conley and Strallen are joined in the musical’s cast by Rolf Saxon (as Mayor Shinn), Sophie Louise Dann (Alma), Gary Milner (Charlie) and Jenny Galloway (Eulalie Shinn) as well as Marc Antolin, Kenneth Avery-Clark, Nicola Blackman, Eddie Elliot, Steve Fortune, Matthew Gould, Clare Halse, Andy Hockley, Amanda Minihan, Kristopher Mitchell, Alice Mogg, Sherrie Pennington, Carl Sanderson, Katy Secombe, Zizi Strallen, Giles Taylor and Barnaby Thompson. Choreography is by Stephen Mear.

Further ahead, from 16 to 27 September 2008 (previews from 5 September), the Festival Theatre schedule concludes with Tim Firth’s adaptation of the award-winning Miramax film Calendar Girls, which tells the real-life story of a Yorkshire chapter of the Women’s Institute who decide to pose nude for a charity calendar. Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, Penelope Wilton and Celia Imrie starred in the 2003 screen original, also written by Firth.

On stage, Patricia Hodge plays Annie (Walters on screen) who, after losing her husband to leukaemia, teams up with her close friend and fellow WI member Chris, played by Lynda Bellingham (Mirren on screen) to raise money for the local hospital by producing a calendar. They’re joined by Elaine C Smith as Cora/Miss October, Gaynor Faye as Celia/Miss November and Brigit Forsyth as WI president Marie. The ladies will strip off at Chichester ahead of a planned tour and possible London transfer. The Right Size’s Hamish McColl will direct.

Minerva Theatre

In the smaller Minerva theatre, Rupert Goold’s Headlong co-production of Six Characters in Search of an Author runs from 8 July to 30 August 2008 (previews from 28 June). Goold and co-adapter Ben Power have updated the 1921 classic by Italian Luigi Pirandello for the “media-obsessed age” of the 21st century (See News, 29 Jan 2008).

Former Almeida joint artistic director Ian McDiarmid, whose previous Pirandello credits include Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse, plays Father in a cast that also features Jamie Bower, Eleanor David, Noma Dumezweni, Dyfan Dwyfor, Christine Entwisle, Denise Gough, Jake Harders, Jeremy Joyce, John Mackay and Robin Pearce.

It’s joined in rep, from 29 July to 30 August 2008 (previews from 16 July) by two companion plays by Ronald Harwood: a revival of Taking Sides, premiered on the same stage in 1995, and Harwood’s new play Collaboration. As previously reported, both plays star Michael Pennington – as, respectively, conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler and composer Richard Strauss, both wrangling with Nazism - and are directed by Philip Franks. Pennington is joined in the cross-cast company by Isla Blair, Pip Donaghy, Martin Hutson, David Horovitch, Melanie Jessop and Sophie Roberts.

Other CFT summer 2008 productions, with further casting still to be announced are: Jonathan Church’s revival of Somerset Maugham’s 1921 social satire The Circle, which stars Susan Hampshire and runs in the Festival Theatre from 30 July to 29 August 2008 (previews from 22 July); and the world premiere of Martin Sherman’s Aristo, which stars Robert Lindsay as Aristotle Onassis and runs in the Minerva from 25 September to 11 October 2008 (previews from 11 September).

- by Terri Paddock