Packed programme of one-nighters and children's shows at Chichester Festival Theatre this winter

Joe Stilgoe
Joe Stilgoe

A busy programme of music, dance and comedy one-nighters and children's shows lies ahead in the new Chichester Festival Theatre winter season.

Public booking opens: September 14 (online only); September 17 (phone and in person).

Music, Dance, Performance and Comedy

I, CLARA, Minerva Theatre, 24 November. Narrated by acclaimed actress Juliet Stevenson, with renowned pianist Lucy Parham, I, Clara celebrates the 200th anniversary of Clara Schumann’s birth in her own words.

ISSY VAN RANDWYCK: DAZZLING DIVAS, Minerva Theatre, 17 December. A spellbinding musical journey through the lives of trailblazing women Billie Holiday, Marilyn Monroe, Patsy Cline, Janis Joplin, Mama Cass, Karen Carpenter and Dusty Springfield, with triple Olivier Award nominee Issy van Randwyck.

SHACKLETON’S CARPENTER, Minerva Theatre, 18 December. In a one-man tour de force, Malcolm Rennie plays the Clydeside carpenter Harry McNish, whose vital role in saving the crew of Shackleton’s Endurance when it sank in Antarctica – defying Shackleton himself in the process – was never recognised.

JOE STILGOE: CHRISTMAS AT THE MOVIES, Minerva Theatre, 19 December. Joe Stilgoe adds his own original and stylish orchestrations to some of movie history’s most memorable moments, including It’s A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Home Alone and Elf.

COWARD AT CHRISTMAS, Minerva Theatre, 22 December. Simon Green and David Shrubsole present a festive cabaret evening devoted to the wit and wisdom of Noël Coward, including classics, comedy gems and lesser-known works.

I’M SORRY I HAVEN’T A CLUE, Festival Theatre, 8 January. BBC Radio’s multi award-winning antidote to panel games returns to Chichester with its sell-out touring show. Join Tim Brooke-Taylor, Tony Hawks, Miles Jupp, Rory Bremner and host Jack Dee for an evening of inspired nonsense, with Colin Sell on piano.

GANDINI: SPRING, Festival Theatre, 10 January. Five virtuoso jugglers and four contemporary dancers push the boundaries of dance and circus in Gandini Juggling’s new work Spring: an adventurous, jubilant and kaleidoscopic exploration of colour. For ages 8+.

THE BLUEJAYS: ROCK AND ROLL REVOLUTION, Festival Theatre, 11 January.The Bluejays (Dreamboats & Petticoats, Million Dollar Quartet) perform 40 classic jive hits from the fabulous fifties, from Rock Around The Clock to Great Balls of Fire.

THE BBC BIG BAND WITH CLAIRE MARTIN: BIG BAND DIVAS, Festival Theatre, 23 January. Award-winning vocalist and radio presenter Claire Martin joins the BBC Big Band and conductor Barry Forgie for a celebration of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee and their contemporaries.

BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA: BROADWAY IN CONCERT, Festival Theatre, 24 January. Singers Clare Teal and Tom Solomon, the 60-piece BBC Concert Orchestra, conductor Stephen Bell and host Liz Robertson with the songs and stories of Broadway’s hit musicals, including Kiss Me, Kate, Gigi, Guys and Dolls and Sweeney Todd.

TARANTARA! A GALA CELEBRATION OF GILBERT AND SULLIVAN, Festival Theatre, 25 January. Alistair McGowan is joined by soloists Rebecca Bottone, Barry Clark and Yvonne Howard, and a 26-piece orchestra conducted by Martin Handley, for a delicious G&S concert.

PUSH: AN OPERAm Minerva Theatre, 27 January. Composed by Howard Moody and performed by Chichester Community Choirs, school children and University students, Push tells the true story of 11 year-old Simon Gronowski whose mother pushed him from a train to Auschwitz to save him from the gas chambers.

SWEET WILLIAM, Minerva Theatre, 31 January. Leading Shakespearean actor Michael Pennington illuminates Shakespeare and his plays in a delightful journey through the life and work of our greatest playwright.

DOTDOTDOT DANCE: IN BODY, Minerva Theatre, 1 February. A triple bill of strikingly dynamic flamenco dance pieces that give a fresh perspective on the art, incorporating live music, spoken word and electronic music.

LOVE IS ONLY LOVE, Minerva Theatre, 5 & 6 February. In 1993 surburban Australia a young boy’s life is changed forever when he discovers the passionate romance of Hollywood musicals, beginning a decades-long quest to find his own kind of romance. Directed by Jason Morell and starring Sam Harrison (Avenue Q, Les Mis) as the boy and David Seadon-Young (An American in Paris) as all the loves of his life, this joyful and honest celebration of young love features songs from the Great American Songbook. Suitable for ages 11+.

ROGER McGOUGH AND LiTTLe MACHINe: joinedupwriting, Minerva Theatre, 7 February. Roger McGough’s exuberant new collection of poems explores the human experience in all its shades of light and dark but always with wit, irrreverence and vivacity. This new show features a fine selection of vintage, classic and surprising poems, set to music by LiTTLe MACHINe.

ANDY PARSONS: HEALING THE NATION, Minerva Theatre, 8 February. As seen on Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo and QI, Andy Parsons brings his brand new show to Chichester. Trust him, he’s not a politician. For ages 15+.

ANIMA, Minerva Theatre, 11 February. With Joli Vyann’s unique blend of dance and acrobatics, Anima sees the performers and a live Taiko drummer using dance, circus, voice and wind instruments to explore the delicate connection between two people, as their breath becomes the soundscape for the performance. For ages 8+.

RICH HALL’S HOEDOWN, Festival Theatre, 19 February. Star of Live at the Apollo, QI and his own BBC Four documentaries, Rich Hall’s new show Hoedown begins as a withering dissection of Trump’s America but ends up being a celebration of Americana, with a hilarious, foot-stomping good time to be had by all. For ages 15+.

For Children and Families

THE GRUFFALO, Minerva Theatre, 3 – 15 December. For ages 3+ . Inspired by the classic picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood. Songs, laughs and monstrous fun in the much-loved show from Tall Stories.

OVATION ROCK SHOW, Minerva Theatre, 9 - 11 January, 7pm; Junior show: 11 January, 2pm. Children and young people (ages 8 – 18) from local schools, Chichester College, Chichester Music Academy and Ovation Music present four concerts of live music. Ovation Music is a Chichester-based charity providing music sessions and live performance opportunities for young people.

ENSONGLOPEDIA OF ANIMALS, Minerva Theatre, 18 January. For ages 5+, 11am & 2pm. Twenty-six animal songs, one for each letter of the alphabet, from amazing arachnids, batty birds and curious corals onwards. John Hinton’s new show is for ages 5 and up.

CHILDREN’S CONCERT, Festival Theatre, 21 January, For ages 5 – 11 , 10.45am & 1.30pm. Southern Pro Musica returns with a perfect introduction to live music played by a full professional orchestra, compèred by magician Neil Henry and conducted by Jonathan Willcocks.

UNITED VOICES, Festival Theatre, 22 January, 7.15pm. Children from the Chichester area come together in song, as hundreds of voices unite in harmony. Conducted by Emily Barden, in partnership with West Sussex Music Hub.

MEET ME A TREE: A VERY FIRST OPERA, Minerva Theatre, 28 & 29 January. For ages 0 – 2; 11am, 2pm & 3.30pm. Hurly Burly return with another interactive musical adventure for babies, a multi-sensory journey through a year in the life of a tree; with gentle classical music alongside nursery rhymes and original songs.

THE BEAR, Minerva Theatre, 13 & 14 February. For ages 3+, Thu 2pm, Fri 10.30am & 2pm. Adapted by Pins and Needles Productions from the book by Raymond Briggs, this is a wild and magical adventure about a little girl who befriends a mischievous polar bear.


Priority booking for Friends of Chichester Festival Theatre opens:

Saturday 7 September (online and by booking form only)

Tuesday 10 September (phone and in person)

Groups and schools booking opens:

Thursday 12 September

Public booking opens:

Saturday 14 September (online only)

Tuesday 17 September (phone and in person)

Box Office 01243 781312; online

PROLOGUE: £5 tickets for 16 – 25s

An allocation of tickets priced at just £5 is available for 16 to 25 year olds for many productions throughout the Winter season. Sign up free at