SPOTLIGHT ON: Three musicals and four world premieres at Chichester

Brian Butler February 22, 2023

Daniel Evans’ seventh and final season as artistic director at Chichester Festival Theatre contains some old gems and new theatre pieces. Under his tenure, the theatre, in both main house and Minerva Studio,  has grown from strength to strength and introduced a highly successful policy of creating diversity throughout the organisation.

Daniel leaves later in the year to become joint boss at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The season opens with real-life mother and son Lia Williams and Joshua James playing mother and son in Noel Coward’s controversial play The Vortex. It runs 28 April to 20 May. It’s the roaring 1920’s and Florence Lancaster draws male admirers to her like moths to a flame. When her son Nicky arrives from Paris, his secret drug addiction creates family turmoil. Critics have often said that the addiction to cocaine in the play is actually a metaphor for Nicky’s gay identity, which couldn’t have been discussed when the play was written.

Veteran actress Eileen Atkins stars with Sebastian Croft in 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog. Late one night 21-year-old Leo arrives at his grandmother’s Manhattan apartment, on a momentous bike ride across the USA. The odd couple strike up an unusual relationship.  The play runs 4 May to 10 June.

A group of people at a carnival have one thing in common – over the centuries they have all tried to assassinate the President of the United States. Stephen Sondheim’s problematical musical Assassins gives us individual portraits of the murderers or would-be killers – some succeed and some don’t. It’s a gripping piece of modern musicality. It runs 3-24 June.

Mom, How Did You Meet The Beatles? (16 June- 8 July). A female playwright leaves New York for London with her young son, intent on adapting John Lennon’s book “In His Own Write” for the stage. It’s the swinging 60’s and all seems set fair for her enterprise, but……. It’s Adrienne Kennedy’s disturbing autobiographical play largely presented as a monologue.

After her success in Chichester’s production of South Pacific, Gina Beck returns to play Maria in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s final musical The Sound of Music. It runs 10 July to 3 September.

The cult 1970’s tv phenomenon Rock Follies gets the stage musicals treatment in a new show by Chloe Moss. It runs 24 July to 26 August. Before the Spice Girls or the Sugarbabes, there were the Little Ladies : a trio defying all the male-centred prejudices of the pop music world.

Never Have I Ever is a new play by Deborah Frances-White. It runs 1-30 September. Jacq and Kas’s boutique restaurant has gone bust. Cash, class, identity and infidelity are all on the menu, along with a dangerous drinking game, revealing long-hidden truths.

Master impressionist Rory Bremner stars in Quiz by James Graham. It re-creates the story of the conviction of Charles Ingram- known as the “coughing Major” and his wife Diana as they try to dupe their way to a fortune in the world’s most popular TV quiz show – Who Wants To be a Millionaire? First seen at Chichester in 2017, this new version will tour the UK after its run. It’s on stage 22-30 September.

A View From The Bridge by Arthur Miller runs 6-28 October. On the Brooklyn waterfront, the orphaned Catherine falls for her handsome newly-arrived cousin Rodolfo, but he’s an illegal immigrant and he triggers family turmoil and tragedy.

The Inquiry is a new play by Harry Davies. It runs 1 October to 4 November. MP Arthur Gill is Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor and he’s only in his 30’s. Tipped to become Prime Minister, his world is turned upside down when an inquiry threatens to connect him to a public health disaster. Can he hide his past and protect his future?

General booking online for the season opens on 4 March, with booking by phone or in person from 7 March. More information at