Winter Season 2021/22 at Chichester Festival Theatre


A feast of visiting drama, dance, comedy, family shows and music for all tastes and ages is heading to Chichester Festival Theatre for the Winter 2021/22 season.

This year they offer a new home-grown production: the revival of one of the best plays of modern times, John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Award-winning Doubt: A Parable, directed by Lia Williams and starring Monica Dolan and Sam Spruell in their Chichester debuts.

There’s a wealth of comedies from the classic to the contemporary, among which we’re delighted to include the Birmingham Rep/National Theatre anniversary production of Ayub Khan Din’s East Is East, alongside Noël Coward’s Private Lives, the stage adaptation of evergreen sitcom The Good Life, West End hit The Play What I Wroteand brand new comedy Two Cigarettes in the Dark.

Among the familiar faces making welcome appearances are Henry Goodman, Nigel Havers, Patricia Hodge, Rufus Hound, Preeya Kalidas, Penelope Keith, David Suchet and Issy van Randwyck.

There’s a great array of comedy, music and literary evenings, ranging from Omid Djalili andRussell Kaneto An Evening Without Kate Bush and 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 new pop musical Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful, Stick Man and Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s Pinocchio for Christmas.

Drama, Dance and Music

EAST IS EAST                                                           Festival Theatre, 3 – 6 November

Ayub Khan Din’s comedy drama East Is East has sold out three London runs, been adapted into a BAFTA Award-winning film and become a modern classic. This 25th anniversary co-production from the National Theatre and Birmingham Rep comes to Chichester directly following its London run, directed by Iqbal Khan.

George Khan wants to raise his family the proper Pakistani way but hasn’t counted on the distractions of 70s Salford. Abdul and Tariq aren’t ready to be married off, Saleem is pushing artistic boundaries, Meenah’s skirt is too short and Sajid just wants to hide in his parka. Can mum Ella keep the family together?

The cast is led by Tony Jayawardena (Ackley Bridge, The Crown, Bend It Like Beckham) as George and Sophie Stanton (best known to a wide TV audience as DCI Jill Marsden in EastEnders) as Ella. The company also includes Rachel Lumberg, returning to Chichester where she last appeared as Sian in Me and My Family.

Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers in

PRIVATE LIVES                                             Festival Theatre, 16 – 20 November

The Olivier Award-winning Patricia Hodge – last seen at Chichester in Travels with My Aunt (2016) and Copenhagen (2018) – and the ever suave and charming Nigel Havers star in Noël Coward’s classic 1930 comedy Private Lives. This new production is directed by Christopher Luscombe, whose work at Chichester includes Love’s Labour’s Lost, Much Ado About Nothing and Travels with My Aunt.

Elyot and Amanda, who were once married, find themselves on honeymoon with their new partners, admiring the view from adjoining balconies in the same hotel on the French Riviera. Their initial horror quickly evaporates and soon they are sharing cocktails. Who knows what the future holds for them now…

The cast is completed by Dugald Bruce-Lockhart, Natalie Walter and Aïcha Kossoko.

Rufus Hound and Preeya Kalidas in

THE GOOD LIFE                                            Festival Theatre, 30 November – 4 December

Tom and Barbara Good, suburban eco-warriors, and their next-door, status-conscious neighbours Margo and Jerry Leadbetter, are on stage for the first time in The Good Life, a theatrical reimagining of the TV sitcom that delighted countless millions. The cast includes actor, presenter and comedian Rufus Hound (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, One Man Two Guvnors, Present Laughter) as Tom; West End, television and film star Preeya Kalidas (Bend It Like Beckham, Bombay Dreams, EastEnders) as Margo; Dominic Rowan (Stepping Out, A Woman of No Importance, The Crown) as Jerry; and Sally Tatum (Pennyworth, Episodes, Gaslight) as Barbara.

Jeremy Sams’s new comedy, based on the television series by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey, leads the well-loved characters through uproarious adventures; some old, some new and often hilariously familiar. His directing credits include CFT’s Oklahoma!.

CHRISTMAS CONCERTS                             Festival Theatre, 6 – 11 December

For ages 7+

The soaring voices of Chichester Cathedral Choir, directed by Charles Harrison, and the exhilarating ensemble of The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood combine to offer the best possible musical start to Christmas. Guaranteed to get you in a festive mood, these Christmas Concerts offer an evening of traditional carols and perennial favourites, along with some enjoyable new discoveries and arrangements.

Christmas Concerts are sponsored by ITD Consultants.

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre            

PINOCCHIO                                                   Festival Theatre, 18 December – 1 January

A new adaptation by Anna Ledwich             Press night: Wednesday 22 December, 7.00pm

Music by Tom Brady

From the original novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

For ages 7+

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s brand new version of this classic tale by Anna Ledwich had just 15 live performances in 2020 before it was streamed globally during lockdown. Dale Rooks’s darkly magical production now returns for Christmas 2021, with the revival directed by Bobby Brook.

Geppetto the boatmaker tosses aside a piece of wood; it’s only good for the fire. To his amazement, a voice answers him back. Geppetto picks up the wood and begins to carve – and a small wooden boy is revealed. A puppet, which he names Pinocchio.

And that’s when the mayhem begins. Pinocchio can’t stop getting into trouble, despite the best efforts of the Fairy and the Cricket to keep him on track. His intentions may be good – he truly wants to go to school like real boys and girls – but the temptation to discover the wonders of the world and make his fortune keep getting in the way.

Pinocchio encounters a host of fascinating characters, from Punch and Judy to the wily Fox and Cat and the strange Sea Monster, as he journeys to Wonderland and the world beneath the sea. But he discovers that it isn’t easy hiding the truth – especially when your nose gets longer with every lie you tell…

Anna Ledwich’s previous work at Chichester includes The Butterfly Lion (2019), Crossing Lines (2019) and Beauty and the Beast (2018).

With music by Tom Brady, Pinocchiohas set design by Simon Higlett, costumes by Ryan Dawson Laight, lighting by James Whiteside, musical direction by Colin Billing and sound by Gregory Clarke.

There will be a Polish-translated performance of Pinocchio on Wednesday 22 December at 2pm and a Relaxed Performance on Thursday 23 December at 2pm.

Pinocchio is sponsored by Henry Adams and Mercer.

MOSCOW CITY BALLET: THE NUTCRACKER     Festival Theatre, 5 – 9 January

For ages 6+

Moscow City Ballet returns to Chichester Festival Theatre to delight audiences with spectacular performances of one of the most popular classical ballets, The Nutcracker. Presented in classic Russian style, with full orchestra, this is a truly captivating production

The timeless story of Clara, who is whisked away on a fairy tale adventure by her Nutcracker Prince, is set to Tchaikovsky’s glorious score and offers a treat for the whole family. This enchanting tale is an eternal seasonal favourite and the perfect introduction to Russian classical ballet.

The Nutcracker is sponsored by Bishops Printers.


For ages 6+                                                                Festival Theatre, 12 – 16 January

A brand new kickass-pirational pop musical will burst into life this January as the Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World take to the stage to tell their stories.  Inquisitive heroine Jade breaks away from her class to take a peek behind the scenes at the not yet open Gallery of Greatness in the local museum. Along her journey she is surprised to meet the original and incredible Wonder Women: Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie and Emmeline Pankhurst to name just a few of the explorers, artists, scientists and secret agents who really did change the world.

Adapted from suffragette descendent Kate Pankhurst’s award-winning picture book by dramatist Chris Bush and Number 1 hit songwriter Miranda Cooper (Girls Aloud, Kylie Minogue), Fantastically Great Women is the follow-up show from the producer of the international hit musical Six.

A Chichester Festival Theatre production

Monica Dolan and Sam Spruell in               Festival Theatre, 22 January – 5 February

DOUBT: A Parable                                        Press night: Thursday 27 January at 7pm

Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play, John Patrick Shanley’s celebrated work later became an Oscar-nominated film.

St Nicholas Roman Catholic Church and School, the Bronx, New York, 1964.

Sister Aloysius Beauvier. School principal. Driven by fierce conviction and moral certainty. Unafraid of confrontation.

Sister James. Inspired by the joy of teaching; devoted to her pupils. Impulsive, chaste and impressionable. Eager to believe the best of everyone.

Father Brendan Flynn. Charismatic preacher and teacher; intent on bringing the Church closer to the community. Working class, basketball player, wears his fingernails long.

Mrs Muller. Mother of Douglas, 12-year-old pupil and altar boy.

Suspicion. Certainty. Judgement. And Doubt.

Monica Dolan makes her Chichester debut as Sister Aloysius. Her BAFTA and Olivier Award-winning stage and screen work includes TV’s W1A, Appropriate Adult, A Very English Scandal and Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads; recent theatre includes Talking Heads (Bridge Theatre), Appropriate (Donmar Warehouse), All About Eve (West End) and her own play The B*easts.

Sam Spruell also appears at Chichester for the first time as Father Flynn. He has starred in many films and TV series, most recently The North Water, Small Axe: Mangrove, Liar and Cold Blood. His theatre roles include Iago in Othello (Shakespeare’s Globe), Clybourne Park (Royal Court) and The Life of Galileo and The Alchemist (National Theatre).

Jessica Rhodes (Sister James) was nominated for The Stage Debut Award 2020 for the Best Performer in a Play and won the Off-West End Offie Award 2021 for Lead Performance in a Play for The Sugar Syndrome at the Orange Tree Theatre.

Director Lia Williams was BAFTA-nominated for her short film The Stronger which won Best Short Film at Raindance; other directing credits include Ashes to Ashes as part of the Harold Pinter Season in the West End. A multi award-winning actor, her recent roles include Wallis Simpson in The Crown, The Capture, May 33rd, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Donmar Warehouse), The Oresteia and Mary Stuart (Almeida & West End).

Doubt will be designed by Joanna Scotcher, with lighting by Paul Keogan, music and sound by Melanie Pappenheim and Giles Perring, and casting by Charlotte Sutton.

The production is sponsored by Protozoon and Wiley.

THE PLAY WHAT I WROTE                         Festival Theatre, 8 – 12 February

Hamish has written a play, an epic set in the French Revolution called ‘A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple’. Sean, on the other hand, wants to continue with their double act. He believes that if they perform a tribute to Morecambe and Wise, Hamish’s confidence will be restored and the double act will go on. But first Sean needs to persuade a guest star to appear in the play what Hamish wrote…

When The Play What I Wrote opened in London’s West End, every single review was a rave, every show a sell-out and it won every major theatre award. It is written by Hamish McColl and Sean Foley and, of course, Eddie Braben, with a mystery guest star at every performance.

The Play What I Wrote is sponsored by Genesis Town Planning.

Penelope Keith in                                                      Festival Theatre, 17 – 26 February

TWO CIGARETTES IN THE DARK                         

Bright, witty, and fiercely independent, Isabel is not ready to let go just yet. In a series of encounters with an old friend and her two sons, by turns funny, startling and poignant, home truths are exchanged, and her past begins to emerge. As Isabel confronts her own hidden regrets and family secrets, we learn what hides below the surface of this proud mother, wife, and friend. Finally, Isabel is able to make peace with her life and say goodbye.

Stephen Wyatt’s new play is a bitter-sweet comedy about facing the end. It reunites Dame Penelope Keith with director Alan Strachan who also directed her in Entertaining Angels (2006), Mrs Pat (2015) and The Chalk Garden (2018) at Chichester, where her other roles encompass The Apple Cart, The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Way of the World. The designer is Simon Higlett, whose Chichester work includes The Chalk Garden, The Norman Conquests and Amadeus.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

PRIVATE PEACEFUL                                               Festival Theatre, 1 – 5 March

For ages 9+

Michael Morpurgo’s award-winning book Private Peaceful was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, won the Red House Children’s Book Award and the Blue Peter Book Award. This thrilling new ensemble retelling by Simon Reade, directed by Elle While, explores the lengths a young soldier will go to, to fight for what is right.

The Peaceful brothers, Tommo and Charlie, have a tough rural childhood facing the loss of their father, financial hardship and a cruel landlord. Their fierce loyalty to each other pulls them through, until one day they both fall for the same girl. And then the Great War comes. Set against the epic backdrop of WW1, we join 18-year-old Private Tommo Peaceful in the trenches as he takes us on a journey through his most cherished memories and tells his story of courage, devotion, family and friendship.

Music, Performance and Comedy

RUSSELL KANE AND FRIENDS                             Festival Theatre, 8 November

An evening of fantastic comedy with multi-award winning comedian, presenter, actor, author and scriptwriter Russell Kane – best known for the BBC Sounds podcast, Evil Genius, and winner of Best Show in 2010 at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards – and two special guests. Ages 14+

DAVID SUCHET:                                                       Festival Theatre, 9 – 10 November
Poirot and More, A Retrospective

For over 25 years, David Suchet has captivated millions worldwide as Agatha Christie’s elegant Belgian detective. Beyond Poirot, this Emmy award-winning actor has been celebrated for his portrayal of iconic roles such as Lady Bracknell, Cardinal Benelli and Freud. This retrospective look at David’s career will have you witness some of his most beloved performances in a new and intimate light.

All proceeds from the first performance go to the UK charity, UK Harvest, to support their mission to eliminate hunger and food waste.

Elégie                                                                       Festival Theatre, 12 November

Internationally acclaimed concert pianist Lucy Parham returns to Chichester with Olivier Award-winning actor Henry Goodman to chronicle the life of composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff in words and music. Exiled from his homeland in 1917, the narrative follows him from Russia to California, where he died in 1943, and features many of his best-loved works for piano, as well as works by Chopin, Scriabin and Tchaikovsky.

ROB BRYDON: A Night of Songs and Laughter   Festival Theatre, 14 November

Rob Brydon’s personal musical journey from South Wales to the West End and beyond, with hilarious tales from his distant and recent past.

OMID DJALILI: The Good Times Tour                    Festival Theatre, 22 November

Intelligent, provocative and entertaining, Omid Djalili’s legendary performance is a captivating comedy masterclass. He received rave reviews playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof at Chichester in 2017. Ages 16+

FAKE NEWS                                                              Minerva Theatre, 25 – 27 November

Written, performed and produced by Osman Baig, and a sell-out show at the Edinburgh Fringe, Fake News is the story of a young journalist who lands a dream internship at the country’s biggest news organization where he stumbles on an earth-shattering exclusive. There’s just one problem: the story is completely untrue. Fake News is a snapshot of what the news is really like. Because sometimes, the real headline lies between the lines.

BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA                                Festival Theatre, 26 November

The BBC Concert Orchestra and Principal Conductor Bramwell Tovey bring an evening of classics and surprises, including Coleridge-Taylor’s Concert Suite and Principal Clarinettist Nicholas Carpenter’s concerto debut playing Weber’s great Clarinet Concerto No 2. Having enjoyed playing Ruth Gipps’ Symphony 2 recently, the BBC CO explore more of her work, and the show ends with two composers’ depictions of daybreak and morning – culminating in Grieg’s popular Hall of the Mountain King.

GILES BRANDRETH AND SUSIE DENT:               Festival Theatre, 28 November

Something Rhymes with Purple Live

Based on the Gold Award-winning podcast for Best Entertainment at the British Podcast Awards, Susie Dent and Gyles Brandreth bring their infectious love of words to the stage in a brand-new show. Uncover the hidden origins of language, understand how and why we use the words we use, enhance your vocabulary, and test your knowledge!

MIG KIMPTON’S TALE OF THE GOLDEN GOOSE:    Minerva Theatre, 30 November

A Floral Extravaganza

Combining his theatrical past with his floristry experience, multi award-winning floral designer Mig Kimpton provides an evening of flowers, feathers and wintery thrills. Watch him create stunning floral designs fit for any home, as he unfolds the tale of the Golden Goose.

AN EVENING WITHOUT KATE BUSH                     Minerva Theatre, 1 – 3 December

The acclaimed performer Sarah-Louise Young and theatremaker Russell Lucas explore the music of one of British music’s most influential voices. From releasing Wuthering Heights at 19 to selling out the Hammersmith Apollo nearly 40 years later, Bush has always confounded her critics. Young invites audiences to celebrate her songs with this mind-blowing show.

POSTING LETTERS TO THE MOON                       Minerva Theatre, 4 December

An evening of wartime letters between the actress Celia Johnson and her husband Peter Fleming, read by Lucy Fleming (their daughter) and Simon Williams, telling of her experiences during the war – from coping with a large isolated house full of evacuated children, to acting in the classic film Brief Encounter.

THE SONGS OF SONG OF SINGAPORE               Minerva Theatre, 8 – 9 January

Join Issy van Randwyck and Elio Pace, with the original cast members of Chichester Festival Theatre’s fun-filled 1998 hit comedy musical, Song of Singapore. Let them take you through the show’s wild jazz music, the potted plot and their personal anecdotes from that glorious summer.

BURNING BRIGHT                                                    Minerva Theatre, 12 January

Poet, painter, engraver and prophet, William Blake lived a life of obscurity and poverty amid accusations of madness. Using only Blake’s own words – from his letters, poems and prose – Ruth Rosen takes us on an inspiring journey through Blake’s visionary genius.

JUDY CARMICHAEL:                                               Minerva Theatre, 15 January

Sexy Songs, Swinging Standards and Lovely Laments

Grammy nominated American pianist/vocalist Judy Carmichael is one of the greatest interpreters of stride and swing piano in the world. She has played everywhere from Carnegie Hall to Castle Fraser and is frequently featured on radio and TV.

The Clay Connection presents VOICES FROM THE KILN

A solo by Vidya Thirunarayan                                 Minerva Theatre, 18 January

A visceral and evocative performance interweaving Bharatanatyam dance, film, text and clay, that echoes with stories of dirt, displacement, and toil, revealing our human need to belong. The show will appeal all ages 8+, and is followed by the chance to join in the interactive space Café Clay.

YUKON HO!                                                               Minerva Theatre, 19 January

Come to the Yukon! Cold, dark, lonesome, big animals, dubious men and dodgy liquor. It’s where ‘Intrepid’ Jen grew up and barely escaped. Join her cabaret-style guide to kicking your way out of Canada’s frozen North.

Daytime and community shows for Children and Families

STICK MAN                                                    Minerva Theatre, 10 – 24 December

For all ages                                                    See website for performance times

Touching, funny and utterly original, Freckle Productions’s delightful adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Stick Man is packed full of puppetry, songs, live music and funky moves. What starts off as a morning jog becomes quite the misadventure for Stick Man: a dog wants to play fetch with him, a swan builds a nest with him, and he even ends up on a fire! How will Stick Man ever get back to the family tree?


For ages 7+                                                    Festival Theatre, 27 November, 2.30pm       

Travel around the world (and around the orchestra) with conductor Bramwell Tovey and the BBC Concert Orchestra. This family friendly concert will showcase the different instruments that make up the orchestra and samples musical delights from as far afield as Finland and Norway, Mexico and Argentina and even the Antarctic.

OVATION ROCK SHOW                               Minerva Theatre, 21 – 22 January, 7pm                                                                               Community show: 22 January, 2pm
Talented young musicians aged 10 – 18 from local schools, colleges, Chichester Music Academy and Ovation Music, return for their 5th anniversary concerts. Ovation Music is a Chichester-based charity providing music sessions and live performance opportunities for young people.

OI FROG & FRIENDS! Live on stage          Minerva Theatre, 22 – 24 February

For ages 3+                                                    Tue 2pm, Wed 11am, 2pm & 4.30pm,

                                                                        Thu 11am & 2pm

Based on the bestselling books by Kes Gray and Jim Field, join FROG, CAT and DOG in this Olivier Award-nominated West End production with original music, puppets and lots of laughs.

THE HUG: A Long Nose Puppet Show       Minerva Theatre, 25 – 27 February

For ages 2 – 8                                                Fri & Sun 11am & 2pm, Sat 11am, 2pm &                                                                               4.30pm           

Based on the heart-warming and funny book The Hug by Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar, set to Tom Gray’s beautiful and witty music, this tale of hope, empathy and acceptance stars a Hedgehog and a Tortoise both in search of a restorative hug.                                 

Events for all ages

Throughout the Winter season, activities, workshops, talks and festivals are on offer, ranging from Sondheim on Screen in partnership with Chichester Cinema at New Park to the winning Papatango Audio Plays. Disability led and learning disability focused company Separate Doors perform four newly commissioned plays with Writing Tomorrow’s Theatre; and there’s Dementia Friendly Singing in the foyer.

Pop-up Play Cafés and Family Fun before selected Minerva Theatre family performances will provide free crafts, colouring in and a reading zone. There’ll also be Half Term Fun from 25 – 29 October at CFT and The Lodge, Graylingwell Park, Chichester. See for more details.

FUN PALACES                                              1 – 3 October, online

Fun Palaces is an annual event that puts culture at the heart of community, and community at the heart of culture. Join us online to engage in a series of Creative Challenges and learn more about the cultural hotspots around Chichester. FREE

WINTER WELLBEING FESTIVAL                Minerva Theatre, 9 – 20 November

A programme of talks, discussions and practical sessions for all ages, to support positive mental health, resilience and wellbeing.



Priority booking for Friends of Chichester Festival Theatre opens:  

Saturday 11 September (online and by booking form only)

Monday 13 September (phone and in person)

Groups and schools booking opens:

Tuesday 14 September

Public booking opens:

Saturday 18 September (online only)

Tuesday 21 September (phone and in person)