Theatre News

Ian McKellen to play King Lear in Daniel Evans' first Chichester season

The announcement also includes musicals featuring Sharon D Clarke, Omid Djalili and Tracy-Ann Oberman

Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Ian McKellen will take on King Lear as part of Chichester Festival Theatre's new season.

Jonathan Munby will direct the production when it opens in the Minerva in September. Munby directed First Light which ran at Chichester last June, as well as the Globe's All the Angels and The Merchant of Venice.

McKellen toured the world as Lear in the RSC's 2007 production directed by Trevor Nunn. The production will run until 28 October, with further casting to be announced.

In July, Omid Djalili and Tracy-Ann Oberman will appear in a new production of the musical Fiddler on the Roof. With a book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, it features songs such as "If I Were A Rich Man", "Tradition" and "Matchmaker". Daniel Evans will direct Djalili as Tevye and Oberman as Golde when the production runs between 10 July and 26 August.

Oscar and Tony Award-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden will make her UK theatre debut in Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth. She won a Tony Award for her role in God of Carnage on Broadway, and has appeared in the Fifty Shades trilogy. Jonathan Kent will also direct Brian J Smith, who is currently playing the Gentleman Caller in The Glass Menagerie, as Chance. It runs from 2 to 24 June.

Sharon D Clarke will make her Chichester debut in the Olivier Award-winning Caroline, or Change. The singer and actress will play the title role of the musical which has a book and lyrics by Tony Kushner, and music by Jeanine Tesori. Michael Longhurt (Amadeus) will direct the production which runs from 6 May to 3 June.

Evans will also direct Richard Wilson in Alan Bennett's Forty Years On. It is The History Boys writer's first play, and is set on a public school's headmaster's last day. It will run in the Festival Theatre from 26 April to 20 May.

Former National Theatre director Richard Eyre will direct Githa Sowerby's The Stepmother in August. The play is about orphan Lois Relph who accepts a marriage proposal from an older man. Eyre's previous work at Chichester includes The Pajama Game and The Last Cigarette. It runs from 11 August to 9 September.

Alan Ayckbourn’s trilogy The Norman Conquests will run in September. The story, about a family weekend away, is made up of three plays: Table Manners; Living Together; and Round and Round the Garden. Each play is set at a slightly different point of the weekend, each offering a different perspectives. Blanche McIntyre will make her Chichester directional debut.

Three new plays will premiere at the theatre as part of the season. Daniel Evans will direct by James Graham's Quiz, which runs from 3 November to 2 December. Graham's play This House transferred to the West End last year, and his new play is a celebration of traditional British quiz shows, and a re-examination of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire cheat Charles Ingram.

Deborah Bruce's new play The House They Grew Up In will be directed by Jeremy Herrin in a co-production with Headlong. The play follows siblings (and hoarders) Peppy and Daniel, and will run from 14 July to 5 August.

Edna O’Brien's The Country Girls will be directed by Lisa Blair. It is set in Ireland and follows best friends Kate and Baba who escape their traditional families and convent school. It will run from 9 June to 8 July.

This Christmas, Chichester Festival Youth Theatre will present a new adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Dale Rooks, who worked with CFYT on Running Wild, will direct. It runs from 16 to 31 December. Rooks will also direct CFYT in Philip Pullman's Grimm Tales from 4 to 19 August.