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Chichester Festival Theatre announces autumn season including Sondheim concerts and Crave

The venue will be reopening its doors from next month

Jenna Russell, Clive Rowe, Erin Doherty, Alfred Enoch, Hannah Waddingham and Gabrielle Brooks
© All except Erin Doherty: Dan Wooller, Erin Doherty: Joseph Sinclair

Chichester Festival Theatre will present an autumn season of socially distanced shows in its main space from next month, it has been revealed.

Opening the season will be Tinuke Craig's revival of Sarah Kane's Crave, which was initially scheduled to run in the venue's Spiegeltent before the pandemic erupted. Kane's hit play will run from 29 October to 7 November with streaming options for those unwilling or unable to head to the theatre from 31 October.

The piece has a sensory sound- and video-scape created by Craig, designer Alex Lowde and sound designer Anna Clock. The cast includes Erin Doherty (The Crown) and Alfred Enoch (Red).

On 1 November at 3pm and 7pm, the theatre will celebrate the 90th birthday of Stephen Sondheim with a special concert led by artistic director Daniel Evans. Appearing in the concert, which features a variety of numbers, will be Gabrielle Brooks, Clive Rowe, Hannah Waddingham and Jenna Russell. Proceeds from this fundraising concert will support Chichester Festival Theatre's work with vulnerable young people.

Patricia Routledge, Sheila Hancock and Michael Ball will sit down with writer Edward Seckerson to discuss their lives and careers on Wednesdays from 11 to 25 November.

Also in November, there will be concerts from soprano Kate Royal, award-winning actor Henry Goodman and pianist Lucy Parham, while Joe Stilgoe will entertain audiences with his intimate solo show.

Chichester Festival Theatre
© Philip Vile

Musical comedy duo Frisky and Mannish will perform for one evening on 12 November, while over the subsequent two days Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo will celebrate their favourite shows in A Night at the Musicals.

In two comedy nights, Rich Hall, Suzi Ruffell, Andrew Ryan, Russell Kane, Rosie Jones and Charlie Baker will perform live, while the Black Cat Cabaret will head to Chichester from 19 to 21 November.

Barely Methodical Troupe will perform their circus performance from 26 to 28 November, while from 30 November to 3 December, Evans, Rebecca Caine and Rebecca Trehearn will perform a range of traditional carols.

Finally, Anna Ledwich will present a brand new version of Pinocchio, directed by Dale Rooks. The show is to be mounted by Chichester Festival Youth Theatre from 12 to 31 December.

With music and orchestrations by Tom Brady, Pinocchio will have set design by Simon Higlett, costumes by Ryan Dawson Laight, lighting by James Whiteside, musical direction by Colin Billing, sound by Gregory Clarke and movement by Lauren Grant.

There will be a Polish-translated show on 21 December.

Evans and executive director Kathy Bourne said: "‘It's always a pleasure to welcome audiences to a new Chichester season, but it's with particular joy that we welcome them to this very special Autumn season, after six long months of our Theatre being dark and empty.

"In putting together this eclectic mix of drama, music, cabaret and comedy, we hope there is something to entice people of all ages to experience once more the uniquely uplifting exhilaration of live performance. The season includes some distinguished names in drama and music, alongside ground-breaking contemporary performers.

"We've worked long and hard to put all the necessary measures in place for our audiences' and artists' health and comfort, and to make their visit Covid-safe. While social distancing is in place, we are having to explore other forms of live performance to ensure the Theatre's future sustainability. For now, we are celebrating that Chichester Festival Theatre's doors are opening again."