Stars line up for CFT autumn season

Edward Fox
Edward Fox

Edward Fox, Amanda Holden, Imogen Stubbs and Felicity Kendal are among the big names as Chichester Festival Theatre prepares to launch its autumn season next week.

Ahead of the full announcement on September 6, the CFT has confirmed a number of shows lined up, promising the “customary great mix of drama, family shows, music and comedy.”

Edward Fox stars in a new, one-man play Sand In The Sandwiches celebrating the poet John Betjeman (Minerva Theatre, November 2-12). Written by Hugh Whitemore (Stevie, Breaking the Code) and directed by Gareth Armstrong, Sand In The Sandwiches travels from Betjeman’s boyhood to life as Britain’s Poet Laureate, presenting an entertaining insight into a man famous for his passions and sense of purpose as much as his unforgettable poetry.

Amanda Holden, Angela Griffin, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Tamzin Outhwaite and

Nicola Stephenson line-up in Stepping Out (Festival Theatre, November 8-19).

CFT spokeswoman Lucinda Morrison said: “Funny and heart-warming, Richard Harris’s uplifting play Stepping Out charts the lives of seven women and one man attempting to tap their troubles away at a weekly dancing class. Initially all thumbs and left feet, the group is just getting to grips with the basics when they are asked to take part in a charity gala.

“Amanda Holden (Britain’s Got Talent, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Wild at Heart) leads an all-star cast including Angela Griffin (Waterloo Road, One Man Two Guvnors), Tracy-Ann Oberman (EastEnders, Doctor Who), Tamzin Outhwaite (Sweet Charity, New Tricks) and Nicola Stephenson (Brookside, Emmerdale), directed by Olivier Award-winning Maria Friedman.”

Also coming up are Frantic Assembly with Things I Know To Be True (Minerva Theatre, November 15-26): “Frantic Assembly bring their celebrated physicality to bear on a new play by leading Australian writer Andrew Bovell: a complex and intense story of a family and marriage through the eyes of four grown siblings that is both touching, funny, poetic and brutally frank.

“Co-directed by Frantic Assembly’s artistic director Scott Graham and State Theatre Company of South Australia’s artistic director Geordie Brookman, the cast includes Imogen Stubbs (Festival 2012’s A Marvellous Year for Plums) and Natalie Casey (Festival 2009’s Oklahoma!).”

Continuing the season, Felicity Kendal stars in A Room With A View (Festival Theatre, November 29-December 3).

“One of E M Forster’s most celebrated novels, A Room With A View is an elegant Edwardian romance with a vivid cast of characters; the 1985 Merchant Ivory screen version is widely cherished as one of the best romantic films of all time. This new adaptation by Simon Reade is directed by former RSC artistic director Adrian Noble, fresh from his acclaimed production of Ross in Festival 2016.

“When Lucy Honeychurch and her chaperone Charlotte Bartlett find themselves in Florence with rooms without views, their fellow guests Mr Emerson and his son George step in to remedy the situation. An illicit kiss with the unsuitable George results in Lucy being whisked away but, once back in England, how will her experiences in Italy affect her engagement to the priggish Cecil Vyse?

“Felicity Kendal plays Charlotte Bartlett. Still known to millions for The Good Life, she has won numerous awards for her extensive stage work.” Returning to the CFT programme are the Christmas Concerts (Festival Theatre, December 6-10).

“The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth and Chichester Cathedral Choir lead a celebration of the festive season with traditional carols, seasonal sing-alongs and a few Christmas cracker jokes. There’s a chance to vote for your favourite carol, with the most popular included in the evening’s line-up; In the Bleak Midwinter topped the poll last year.”

Christmas itself will be celebrated with Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s production of Peter Pan (December 17-31)

“One thrilling evening, the brave, wistful, maverick boy who refuses to grow up, teaches the Darling children how to fly, whisking them off to the magical world of Never Land – a deliciously frightening place.

“As well as other occasionally-ordinary children from the outside world, they encounter a company of lost boys, mysterious mermaids, a gang of swashbuckling pirates and their leader, the villainous Captain Hook.”

The New Year brings Spymonkey: The Complete Deaths (Minerva Theatre, February 14-18).

“There are 74 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare (75 if you count the black ill-favoured fly killed in Titus Andronicus): from the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar and the carnage at the end of Hamlet, to snakes in a basket in Antony and Cleopatra. Countless stabbings, severed heads, poisonings and a smothering. And the pie that Titus serves his guests.

“Brighton-based company Spymonkey (who created the physical comedy in Chichester’s Mack & Mabel) will perform them all – sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, sometimes musically, always hysterically. Adapted and directed by Tim Crouch, The Complete Deaths was created as a sombre and sublimely-funny tribute to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.”

One-nighters coming up during the season include 10cc in the Festival Theatre one November 3. The art-pop pioneers are the purveyors of some of the greatest pop records of the 20th century. The concert includes their number-one singles I’m Not in Love, Dreadlock Holiday and Rubber Bullets.”

Clare Teal: The First Ladies of Swing will be in the Festival Theatre on January 20.

Clare and her 17-piece Hollywood Orchestra, conducted by Guy Barker, explore the classics penned by the legendary musical storytellers of the last 100 years and feature music from the swing greats, including Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day, Nina Simone and Peggy Lee.

Russell Kane: Right Man, Wrong Age is in the Festival Theatre on November 5 and Adam Hills: Clown on December 4.

Priority booking for Friends of Chichester Festival Theatre opens: Saturday, September 10 (online and by booking form only) and Tuesday, September 13 (phone and in person). Public booking opens: Saturday, September 17 (online only) and Tuesday, September 20 (phone and in person). Box Office 01243 781312; online cft.org.uk

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