SPOTLIGHT ON: Chichester’s Winter Season

Brian Butler October 15, 2022

Just as Chichester announced its winter season for the Festival Theatre and Minerva Studio, came the news that its boss the highly talented Daniel Evans has been appointed joint artistic director at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. More about Daniel later in this article.

As is usual, the new season comprises one-night-only events and runs of a few days from visiting productions. Kicking it off, from 22-27 November is Toby Marlow and Lucy Miller’s award-winning global phenomenon Six- The Musical. For the uninitiated, it’s a rollicking, rocking re-telling of the lives of Henry VIII’s six wives, but with 100 octane Queen-power songs. It’s the most fun you could have in the theatre with someone else’s half-a -dozen spouses.

TV comedy star Caroline Quentin appears with her real-life daughter as mother and offspring in George Bernard Shaw’s classic play Mrs Warren’s Profession, which because it dealt with the scandal of a high-class sex worker, was banned for 30 years after its conception in 1894. It runs 29 November-3 December.

The Band of the Royal Marines and Chichester Cathedral Choir will stage a series of Christmas concerts from 5- 10 December. Following seasonal Christmas family shows, there’s another chance to catch comics Miles Jupp and Justin Edwards, in a staging of the classic Ealing comedy film The Lavender Hill Mob from 10-14 January.

Girl From The North Country is a musical re-imagining of Bob Dylan songs, as you’ve never heard them before, in a story about family and love. It plays 24-28 January.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel will run 31 January-4 February, telling the eclectic tale of a bunch of Brit retirees, let loose on India. It stars theatre royalty in the shape of Hayley Mills, Paul Nicholas and Rula Lenska. In a complete shift of mood, How Not To Drown runs 14-18 February, presented by the marvellous ThickSkin Theatre Company. It’s the story of an 11-year-old unaccompanied asylum seeker.

Alan Parker’s movie Bugsy Malone comes to the stage from 15-19 February. It’s prohibition era New York and rival gangs battle out with the newly-invented splurge gun in a world of mobsters, showgirls and dreamers.

Pride and Prejudice (sort of) comes direct from a West End triumph, where it won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy.It’s a uniquely audacious re-telling of Jane Austen’s love story – where men, money and microphones abound. It’s the 1800s and it’s party time!

One-nighters include: BBC Concert Orchestra with West End soloists in a concert celebrating Barbra Streisand (18 November), Pam Ayers, the poet who’s made us laugh for nearly 5 decades ( 15 January), Looking For Me Friend- the music of Victoria Wood- written and performed by BBC’s All Together Paulus (20 January) and The Woman I Know by Joseph Toonga in  a Hip Hop Dance Theatre production celebrating the overcoming of the stigma society holds towards ethnic minorities (24 February).

Now more about Daniel Evans. When I interviewed him before the pandemic for Scene, he told me of his passion for diversity and equal opportunities in the theatre, as he put it “ as an out gay man”. Now he’s partially replacing another great “ out “ man of the stage – Gregory Doran, who’s stepping down after the death of his lifelong partner the great Sir Anthony Sher. I bet that diversity will feature high on his priority list when he moves next summer to the banks of the Avon. It will be nteresting to see his valedictory season next summer at Chichester – maybe he’ll give us some of his beloved Sondheim- I do hope so.

Learn more, book tickets at the CFT theatre website here