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Djalili and McKellen to star in Daniel Evans’ first Chichester Festival Theatre season

Chichester Festival Theatre executive director Rachel Tackley and artistic director Daniel Evans. Photo: Tobias Key Chichester Festival Theatre executive director Rachel Tackley and artistic director Daniel Evans. Photo: Tobias Key
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New Chichester Festival Theatre artistic director Daniel Evans has unveiled his inaugural season at the venue, with productions including a revival of Fiddler on the Roof starring Omid Djalili and a new work from James Graham.

Evans promised that his first season of work will pay homage to the theatre’s past while also trying to attract new and different audiences.

The director’s first programme features actors including Ian McKellen, Marcia Gay Harden and Richard Wilson, alongside directors including Jonathan Kent, Richard Eyre and Blanche McIntyre.

Evans, and new executive director Rachel Tackley, have also announced cheaper tickets for 16 to 25-year-olds, cutting the price of its Prologue tickets from £8.50 to £5.

Speaking of his plans, Evans said Chichester had always been known for having great actors in great plays, adding: “This season will be no exception”.

“For me it’s a balance between being on a continuum with the past and also slowly signifying that there’s some newness,” he told The Stage.

McKellen will play King Lear in an ensemble production of the Shakespearean tragedy, running in the Minerva from September 22 to October 28, with press night on September 29.

It will be directed by Jonathan Munby.

Academy and Tony award-winner Harden will make her UK stage debut in Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth, alongside Brian J Smith. It runs in the Minerva in June, directed by Kent.

The Minerva will also stage a new play by Graham called Quiz, based on TV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and the conviction of contestant Charles Ingram.

It is directed by Evans, and runs in November.

Djalili will star alongside Tracy-Ann Oberman in a new production of Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Evans.

Elsewhere in the season, Michael Longhurst directs a new production of Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s musical Caroline, or Change, with Sharon D Clarke taking the lead role.

Deborah Bruce has written new play The House They Grew Up In, which is a co-production with Headlong and is directed by the company’s artistic director Jeremy Herrin.

Meanwhile, Wilson will lead the cast of Alan Bennett’s Forty Years On, which opens the Festival theatre’s season on April 21, directed by Evans.

Eyre will direct Githa Sowerby’s The Stepmother, in the Minerva, while Alan Ayckbourn trilogy The Norman Conquests will be directed by McIntyre. The final new work in season will be Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls, directed by Lisa Blair.

CFT’s youth theatre will stage a sire specific production of Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales, at Cass Sculpture Foundation, as well as an adaptation of Beauty and the Beast at Christmas.

Chichester season at a glance

Forty Years On by Alan Bennett

Directed by Daniel Evans
Starring Richard Wilson
April 21 to May 20, press night April 26
Festival Theatre

Caroline, or Change by Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori

Directed by Michael Longhurst
Starring Sharon D Clarke
May 6 to June 3, press night May 11
Minerva Theatre

Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams

Directed by Jonathan Kent
Starring Marcia Gay Harden and Brian J Smith
June 2 to 24, press night June 9
Festival Theatre

The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien

Directed by Lisa Blair
June 9 to July 8, press night June 14
Minerva Theatre

Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick

Directed by Daniel Evans
Starring Omid Djalili and Tracy-Ann Oberman
July 10 to August 26, press night July 18
Festival Theatre

The House They Grew Up In by Deborah Bruce

Directed by Jeremy Herrin
July 14 to August 5, press night July 21
Minerva Theatre, in a co-production with Headlong

Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales for Young and Old by Philip Wilson

Directed by Dale Rooks
August 4 to 19, press night August 9 and 17

The Stepmother by Githa Sowerby

Directed by Richard Eyre
August 11 to September 9, press night August 17
Minerva Theatre

King Lear by William Shakespeare

Directed by Jonathan Munby
Starring Ian McKellen
September 22 to October 28, press night September 29
Minerva Theatre

The Norman Conquests by Alan Ayckbourn

Directed by Blanche McIntyre
September 18 to October 28, press night October 3
Festival Theatre

Quiz by James Graham

Directed by Daniel Evans
November 3 to December 2, press night November 10
Minerva Theatre

Beauty and the Beast

Directed by Dale Rooks
December 16 to 31, press night December 19
Festival Theatre

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