Preparations for Chichester Festival's revival of Kander and Ebb's Cabaret, which opens on 31 July 2002 (previews from 25 July), have become a bit steamier than anticipated with news today that its director Lucy Bailey has walked out.

Set in the Kit Kat Klub of 1930s Berlin, the story about sultry American singer Sally Bowles is one of pre-war sexual decadence and eroticism but, according to press reports, the Chichester management was alarmed at just how charged some of the nightclub scenes were in rehearsals for Bailey's production. When they asked her to tone them down, the director refused.

A statement issued by the theatre this morning confirms that Bailey (whose previous credits include Baby Doll for the Birmingham Rep, the National and in the West End) has left the production because of "artistic differences" and that she has been replaced by Roger Redfarn, who directed the festival's much less controversial 2000 musical, Song of Singapore.

In Chichester's Cabaret, Alexandra Jay (best known as Martine McCutcheon's reliable understudy in My Fair Lady) plays Sally, the role immortalised by Liza Minnelli in Bob Fosse's 1972 Oscar-winning film. She's joined by Julian Bleach (star and co-creator of Shockheaded Peter) as the Emcee and Robin Laing as aspiring writer Cliff Bradshaw.

Also in the cast are Sarah Badel (Fraulein Schneider), Richard Laing (Ernst), Brian Greene (Herr Schultz), Tessa Pritchard (Fraulein Kost), Gil Cohen-Alloro, Alison Bidder, Charlie Bull, Anna Carmichael, Matt Dempsey, Steven Fawell, Caroline Hall, Lucy Holloway, William Maidwell, Paul Milton, Lucy Shaw, Viv Soan and Barbara Tartaglia.

Based on the stories of Christopher Isherwood and the play by John Van Druten, Cabaret has a book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. It was first seen in 1966 on Broadway, where Sam Mendes' acclaimed Donmar Warehouse revival has been running since 1998.

The Chichester production is designed by Angela Davies, with lighting by Jon Buswell, musical direction by Garth Hall and choreography by Bill Deamer. It continues at the West Sussex theatre until 5 October 2002.

- by Terri Paddock