Chichester Festival Theatre WINTER 2019-20 season announcement

Winter 2019/20 brings a sparkling selection of touring productions to Chichester Festival Theatre: fascinating dramas, captivating musicals and family shows, and a kaleidoscope of dance, music and comedy.

The musical sensation Six and the hit comedy Calendar Girls The Musical are guaranteed to lift the roof off the Festival Theatre, while star-studded drama arrives with Prism, My Cousin Rachel and The Lovely Bones. The inventive company Told by an Idiot visit Chichester for the first time with their new piece about Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel, while the Olivier Award-winning production A Monster Calls launches a national tour at the Festival Theatre.

There’s a great array of comedy, dance, music and poetry nights, ranging from I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue to Gandini Juggling, and The Bluejays to the BBC Concert Orchestra; while seasonal favourites, the Christmas Concerts and Moscow City Ballet, return.

There’s also plenty of entertainment for families and youngsters, including The Gruffalo and Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s The Wizard of Oz for Christmas.

 Drama, Dance and Music

 Robert Lindsay & Tara Fitzgerald in

PRISM                                                             Festival Theatre, 5 – 9 November

Written and directed by Terry Johnson and following a sell-out run at London’s Hampstead Theatre, Prism is the astonishing true story of the man who spent his life making Hollywood’s greatest divas look beautiful.

Robert Lindsay plays the double Oscar-winning cinematic master Jack Cardiff, who has retired to a Buckinghamshire village. He is surrounded by memorabilia of his days on famous film sets – and his secret liaisons with famous women. Writing an autobiography should be an easy matter: were it not that Jack would now rather live in the past than remember it. Tara Fitzgerald also stars in this delightfully witty and poignant play.

Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s

CALENDAR GIRLS The Musical                  Festival Theatre, 13 – 23 November

Calendar Girls The Musical by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth (This Is My Family) is the award-winning production based on the true story of the calendar girls – a group of ordinary ladies who achieved something extraordinary.

This marvellous musical comedy, which comes straight from London’s West End, comes to Chichester starring Sarah Jane Buckley (Blood Brothers, Hollyoaks), Sue Devaney (Coronation Street, Dinnerladies), Julia Hills (2point4 Children, EastEnders), Judy Holt (Coronation Street, Scott & Bailey), Ruth Madoc (Hi-de-Hi!, Little Britain), Lisa Maxwell (The Bill, Loose Women) and Rebecca Storm (Blood Brothers, Annie).

THE LOVELY BONES                                   Festival Theatre, 26 – 30 November

Alice Sebold’s best-selling novel is a unique coming-of-age tale that captured readers throughout the world. This acclaimed stage adaptation by Bryony Lavery, directed by Melly Still, is an unforgettable play about life after loss.

Susie Salmon is just like any other young girl. She wants to be beautiful, adores her charm bracelet and has a crush on a boy from school. There’s one big difference though – Susie is dead.

With a large cast, visually stunning staging and a spellbinding soundtrack, this wonderfully creative production is an exciting, emotional and uplifting theatrical tour-de-force.

Suitable for ages 14+; contains adult themes.

CHRISTMAS CONCERTS                             Festival Theatre, 2 – 7 December

The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth and Chichester Cathedral Choir offer the best possible musical start to Christmas. Traditional carols and perennial favourites combine with enjoyable new discoveries and the inevitable Christmas cracker jokes for a night of true winter cheer. The ebullience and panache of the Band – with their stunning Corps of Drums – and the beauty and artistry of the Choir are guaranteed to get you in a festive mood.

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre

THE WIZARD OF OZ                                     Festival Theatre, 14 – 29 December

For ages 7+                                                    Relaxed performance: 27 December at 2pm

When Dorothy runs away from her home in Kansas with her faithful dog Toto, she’s caught up in a terrifying cyclone and finds herself in the strange and magical land of Oz. There she encounters a host of curious and enchanting characters. Accompanied by a Scarecrow, a Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion, can Dorothy escape the Wicked Witch of the West, reach the Emerald City and find the mysterious Wizard of Oz?

Don your ruby slippers and join Chichester Festival Youth Theatre as they journey along the yellow brick road in a wonderful adventure for all the family.

This faithful adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s novel features all the beloved songs from the 1939 classic film, including Over the Rainbow, If I Only Had a Brain and We’re Off To See The Wizard.

Lucy Betts, who directed 2018’s Sleeping Beauty, takes the reins again for another stunning festive production from the remarkable CFYT.

MOSCOW CITY BALLET: THE SLEEPING BEAUTY         Festival Theatre, 2 – 5 January

Moscow City Ballet return to Chichester with their stunning production of The Sleeping Beauty: an unmissable climax to the festive season, presented in classic Russian style with full orchestra.

 The enchanting and romantic story of Princess Aurora, wicked Carabosse, the Lilac Fairy and an array of fairytale characters, is set to Tchaikovsky’s glorious score. This truly magical production showcases the company’s dramatic and lyrical talents.

SIX                                                                  Festival Theatre, 14 – 19 January

Divorced. Beheaded. Live! Nominated for five Olivier Awards including Best New Musical, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss’s sell-out international smash hit Six is a phenomenon.

From Tudor queens to pop princesses, the six wives of Henry VIII finally take to the mic to tell their tales, remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an 80-minute celebration of 21st century girl power. These Queens may have green sleeves but their lipstick is rebellious red.

For ages 10+.


Minerva Theatre, 21 – 25 January

In 1910, the unknown Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel set sail for New York as part of Fred Karno’s famous music hall troupe, sharing a cabin and then spending two years touring North America together. Stan returned home to find success with Oliver Hardy; Charlie became one of the most famous figures in the world. In Chaplin’s autobiography, Stan Laurel is never mentioned. Stan talked about Charlie all his life.

Playing fast and loose with the facts and accompanied by a live piano each night, Told by an Idiot creates an hilarious and moving homage to two men who changed the world of comedy forever.

Helen George in

MY COUSIN RACHEL                                   Festival Theatre, 28 January – 1 February

Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier and adapted by Joseph O’Connor, this menacing psychological thriller has enthralled readers since it was first published in 1951.

When wealthy landowner Ambrose Ashley marries a distant relation, Rachel, and dies in Italy shortly afterwards, his young ward, Philip, is convinced Rachel is responsible for his death. But when he meets Rachel in Cornwall and falls for her charms, he is torn between believing she is a gold-digging murderess or that she is a maligned victim of rumour and suspicion.

Helen George, known for eight series of TV’s Call the Midwife, plays the enigmatic Rachel.

A MONSTER CALLS                                     Festival Theatre, 6 – 15 February

Patrick Ness’s best-selling and critically acclaimed novel A Monster Calls (inspired by an idea by Siobhan Dowd) is brought vividly to life in this Olivier Award-winning production by visionary director Sally Cookson.

Thirteen-year-old Conor’s mum is sick, his grandmother won’t stop interfering and the kids at school won’t look him in the eye. Then, one night, he is woken by something at his window. A monster has come walking, to tell Conor tales from when it walked before. And when it’s finished, Conor must tell his own story and face his deepest fears.

A dazzling insight into love, life and healing. Suitable for ages 10+.

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 (Dreamboats & Petticoats, Million Dollar Quartet) perform 40 classic jive hits from the fabulous fifties, from Rock Around The Clock to Great Balls of Fire.


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.


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.



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 OPERA                                                    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+.


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+                                                    see website for performance times

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.

OUT OF THE HAT                                         Minerva Theatre, 15 February

For ages 2 – 8                                                11am, 2pm & 4pm

Doris and Delilah dream of creating the world’s greatest magic show. Long Nose Puppets present a story about friendship and the magic of nature, with songs by Tom Gray of Gomez.


For ages 7+                                                    Festival Theatre, 16 February, 4pm              

Help young composer Emily Presto to write a new piece of music! Meet terrifying trolls, explore space and dance with cowboys in an exciting musical adventure for all the family. Conducted by David McCallum with actor Lucy Wells as Emily.

 OI FROG & FRIENDS!                                   Minerva Theatre, 17 – 20 February

For ages 3+                                                    Mon 2pm, Tue – Thu 11am & 2pm

Adapted from the bestselling books by Kes Gray and Jim Field, join FROG, CAT and DOG in an action-packed story with songs, puppets, laughs and rhymes.

Events for all ages

Throughout the Winter season, activities, workshops and talks are on offer, from juggling  and comedy workshops, a junk orchestra and a lullaby lounge, to grief cafés. See for more details.

Pop-up Play Cafés before selected Minerva Theatre family performances will provide free crafts, colouring in and a reading zone.

FUN PALACES                                              6 October, 10am – 4pm, FREE

Fun Palaces is an annual event focusing on culture at the heart of community, and community at the heart of culture. Join us and other local organisations for a day of free activities and find something surprising to take part in.

FestivALL                                                       Minerva Theatre, 20 & 21 March, 7pm

Two days celebrating the creative talents of local people with additional needs. Performers will include Theatre Inc, Stopgap Troop, Chichester Down Syndrome Dance Crew and CFT’s own Friday Lates. There will also be a programme of free bookable activities open to all.


This brand new venue will feature an eclectic mix of events from cabaret, comedy and circus, to a week of half-term fun for all ages. Visit or see separate press release for full details.