Chichester Festival Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Season

Sheila Connor

Chichester Festival Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Season has been announced and it is confirmed that Antony Andrews (best known for his role in ITV’s drama Brideshead Revisited) will play Prime Minister Anthony Eden in the world premier of Hugh Whitemore’s political thriller A Marvellous Year for Plums.

Adam Garcia (currently a judge on television’s Got to Dance) will feature as Bill Calhoun / Lucentia in Kiss Me Kate which will be directed by Trevor Nunn with choreography by Stephen Mear.

Penelope Keith and a cast of fifteen have begun rehearsals for William Congreve’s The Way of the World, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh and designed by Paul Farnsworth.

To mark the anniversary, there will be fifty one-off events, including pre and post-show talks, Friday and Saturday shorts and workshops relating to Festival 2012 productions. Also fifty ‘facts’ marking each year the theatre has been open will be gradually released, a new one each week.

Events will include art exhibitions, a commemorative book by local author Kate Mosse, free local public events and the creation of a temporary structure Theatre on the Fly which will house new work from Chichester Festival Theatre’s team of graduate directors during Festival 2012.

Simultaneously, the Festival Theatre productions of Singin’ in the Rain, Sweeney Todd, South Downs and The Browning Version and Bingo are playing in London’s West End, allowing the theatre’s work to be seen by thousands of people beyond the Sussex region.

The festival opens with a new production of the play that marked a turning point in the fortunes of the theatre during its first season in 1962, Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov translated by Michael Frayn. The cast includes Roger Allam, Dervla Kirwan and Timothy West.