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Chichester reopens Festival Theatre with Rupert Everett in Amadeus, plus Gypsy and Guys and Dolls

Jonathan Church has announced the Festival 2014, with a celebration of playwright Peter Shaffer plus Imelda Staunton in Gypsy and a revival of Guys and Dolls

Rupert Everett will play Salieri in Amadeus
© Dan Wooller

Chichester Festival Theatre (CFT) has announced details of its 2014 season, which sees the reopening of the Festival Theatre following a £22 million restoration.

Celebrating Shaffer

The season includes a mixture of new writing and old, with a celebration of the works of Peter Shaffer, including a revival of Amadeus starring Rupert Everett as Salieri which runs in the Festival Theatre from 12 July to 2 August 2014.

Directed by CFT artistic director Jonathan Church, Amadeus delves into the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his rival Antonio Salieri.

Church said today: "Peter Shaffer was probably the most important writer when the venue opened... Shaffer's one of the great writers for large stages, and Amadeus will give us a chance to exploit the new technical facilities of the theatre."

He revealed the idea for the production was sparked when he took the playwright to see The Judas Kiss, which CFT co-produced with Hampstead Theatre, and the playwright "fell in love" with Everett's performance as Oscar Wilde.

The celebration of Shaffer, who has a 50-year association with Chichester stemming from his early collaborations with Laurence Olivier, continues with his 1965 play Black Comedy, which runs in the Minerva Theatre from 4 July to 9 August.

This will run as a double bill with a new adaptation of Miss Julie by Rebecca Lenkiewicz (Her Naked Skin, The Night Season) starring Rosalie Craig (The Light Princess, Table, Ragtime).

Major musicals

CFT will stage two major musicals in the season; the long-rumoured Gypsy starring Imelda Staunton and Guys and Dolls directed by Gordon Greenberg with choreography from Carlos Acosta.

Guys and Dolls will be the first musical in the new Festival Theatre, running from 11 August to 21 September. It stars Jamie Parker as Sky Masterson, Clare Foster as Sarah Brown, Peter Polycarpou as Nathan Detroit and Sophie Thompson as Miss Adelaide.

Michael Ball, Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Church at the 2013 WhatsOnStage Awards
© Dan Wooller

Gypsy will see Imelda Staunton reunited with director Jonathan Kent following the WhatsOnStage Award-winning Sweeney Todd in 2011. Running from 6 October to 8 November, it also stars Lara Pulver as Louise and Kevin Whately as Herbie.

"In effect [Gypsy] has come about because Stephen Sondheim so admired Imelda and Jonathan's work on Sweeney"," said Jonathan Church. "It's a great team coming together again."

New writing in the Minerva

The season also sees three world premieres in the Minerva Theatre which promise to "reveal undiscovered histories". The first is David Haig's Pressure, running from 31 May to 28 June, which tells the true story of the conflict between celebrity weatherman Colonel Krick and Meteorological Officer Dr James Stagg during the Second World War. It stars Haig as well as Malcolm Sinclair.

The second new play is Pitcairn by Richard Bean, running from 22 August to 20 September. A co-production with Out of Joint and Shakespeare's Globe, it is directed by Max Stafford-Clark.

The final premiere is Mark Hayhurst's Taken at Midnight, telling the story of anti-Nazi German lawyer Hans Litten, which runs from 26 September to 25 October. Directed by Jonathan Church, it stars Penelope Wilton as Litten's mother Irmgard.

Revivals including Routledge in An Ideal Husband

Patricia Routledge will return to Chichester following her hugely popular turn as Lady Bracknell in 2000, to star in a revival of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, playing in the Festival Theatre from 21 November to 13 December 2014.

Zoe Wanamaker will play the title role in Hugh Whitemore's Stevie in the Minerva Theatre from 24 April to 24 May, a glimpse into the life of English poet and novelist Stevie Smith. It also features in the cast Lynda Baron and Chris Larkin.

Finally, Dervla Kirwan will star in Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune by Terrence McNally in the Minerva Theatre from 6 November to 6 December.

Jonathan Church said: "We're immensely proud of our new theatre and of the season that celebrates our year of transformation. As great writers, great directors and great performers are at the heart of what we do, I'm thrilled to present a programme distinguished by the finest dramatic writing, with new plays standing front and centre of our season."

Tickets for the new season go on public sale on 19 March.