Chichester Festival Theatre 50th anniversary season

Sheila Connor

Anthony AndrewsChekhov's Uncle Vanya, staged during Chichester Festival Theatre's very first season in 1962 with Lawrence Olivier as Antrov, is opening the Summer Festival in this, the 50th Anniversary year, and although not yet officially opened has extended its run by an extra week. Translated by Michael Frayn, the cast includes Roger Allam, Dervla Kirwan, Timothy West and Alexander Hanson.

Running from 30th March to 28th April, there will be a pre-show talk at 6.p.m. on the final day, and a post-show talk with cast and creative team on Thursday 26th April.

13th April to 5th May Penelope Keith stars in William Congreve's comedy of manners The Way of the World. In The Steven Pimlott Building on 16th April, Dr. Gilli Bush-Bailey, Reader in Women's Theatre History at Royal Holloway University of London, introduces Congreve's masterpiece through the depth of his portrayal of women. This is a free talk but places must be booked ahead.

Anthony Andrews, marking his debut in a Chichester Festival production, has been confirmed to play Prime Minister Anthony Eden in the world premiere of Hugh Whitemore's A Marvellous Year for Plums. The cast in this political thriller also includes Nicholas Le Prevost, James Simmons and David Yelland.

Alex Bourne, Hannah Waddingham, David Burt and Clive Rowe have been confirmed to join the cast of Kiss Me, Kate this summer alongside Adam Garcia.

This year marks the start of an ambitious campaign, RENEW, to raise the £22 million required to upgrade the Festival Theatre. Planning permission for the major redevelopment of the Grade II listed building has been granted and local authorities, businesses and the community are supporting the plans which will safeguard the theatre and maintain its positive regional economic impact for many decades to come.