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Chichester lines up Gypsy, Dolls & Damsel in Distress?

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At today's press briefing to launch the 2013 Chichester Festival season, artistic director Jonathan Church revealed that three major musicals are currently in development at the south coast venue.

He confirmed that, as previously rumoured, Whatsonstage.com Award-winning Sweeney Todd star Imelda Staunton (pictured with Church and Michael Ball) is in line to return to Chichester to star in Gypsy, directed again by Jonathan Kent.

Although schedules are still being worked out, the production could be one of the first to be staged in the newly refurbished Festival Theatre when it reopens next year.

Church - who has led CFT since 2006 - revealed that other shows currently in development include a new revival of Guys and Dolls, the Broadway classic that has never been staged before at Chichester. He said: "(The production) will take advantage of the possibilities for reinvention afforded by using a thrust stage."

And American choreographer/director Rob Ashford is collaborating with director/composer Jeremy Sams on a new stage version of A Damsel in Distress. The 1937 comedy film starring Fred Astaire features songs by George and Ira Gershwin and a book by PG Wodehouse.

Chichester - which this year will construct a temporary 1400-seat 'tent theatre' housing a production of Barnum - has become a powerhouse of musical theatre, with recent hits including five time Whatsonstage.com Award-winner Sweeney Todd as well as acclaimed revivals of Singin' in the Rain and Kiss Me Kate.

Executive director Alan Finch said today that two million people have seen CFT productions outside Chichester in that last three years, bringing in an annual revenue of £250,000.


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