News: Chichester Festival Theatre announces Festival 2024

Chichester Festival Theatre’s Festival 2024 – the first season programmed by new Artistic Director Justin Audibert – has today been announced by Justin and Executive Director Kathy Bourne. Festival 2024 includes seven world premieres, a spectacular summer musical, and modern masterpieces. A £1.5million fundraising appeal is being launched for a sustainable new space for emerging artists and creative development in 2025.

  • In the Festival Theatre:
    • The Other Boleyn Girl by Mike Poulton, based on Philippa Gregory’s novel of Tudor intrigue, directed by Lucy Bailey
    • Coram Boy, an enthralling 18th century adventure, adapted by Helen Edmundson, based on the novel by Jamila Gavin and directed by Anna Ledwich
    • A brand new production of Lionel Bart’s iconic musical Oliver!, directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne, in a new revision by Cameron Mackintosh
    • Redlands, a new play by Charlotte Jones, inspired by the Rolling Stones’ Chichester trial, directed by Justin Audibert
    • A spellbinding new retelling of Cinderella by Philip Wilson, with music by Jason Carr, directed by Jon Pashley
  • In the Minerva Theatre:
    • The House Party by Laura Lomas, a new adaptation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie, directed by Holly Race Roughan in a co-production with Headlong in association with Frantic Assembly
    • Harold Pinter’s first major success, The Caretaker, directed by Justin Audibert
    • The Promise, a new play by Paul Unwin on the pioneering post-war Labour government, directed by Jonathan Kent
    • The first ever John le Carré novel on stage, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, adapted by David Eldridge and directed by Jeremy Herrin
    • A co-production with Told by an Idiot of the deliciously terrifying The Cat and the Canary, adapted by Carl Grose from the play by John Willard, directed by Paul Hunter
    • A festive family story created especially for CFT by Michael Morpurgo, Hey! Christmas Tree, written for the stage by Vicki Berwick and directed by Dale Rooks


By Mike Poulton
Based on the novel by Philippa Gregory
Directed by Lucy Bailey

19 April – 11 May, Festival Theatre

Henry VIII’s court is a stage for love and treachery, where the weapons of choice are sex, marriage, and the executioner’s axe. As Henry’s mistress, Mary Boleyn is a pawn in her family’s lust for power. Queen Katherine of Aragon hasn’t produced a male heir, and Mary’s ruthless uncle scents the chance of putting his niece on the throne.

But Henry’s wandering eye has fallen on another: Mary’s headstrong sister, Anne, whose ambition not only threatens to destroy her bond with Mary and their brother George, but shakes the foundation of Church and State. Can Mary take charge of her own fate?

Based on Philippa Gregory’s internationally best-selling novel, The Other Boleyn Girl is a brilliant recreation of intrigue at the Tudor court – a racy and riveting drama of events that changed the course of English history.

Mike Poulton’s award-winning stage adaptations include Uncle Vanya and Fortune’s Fool for CFT and Broadway, and Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (RSC, West End and Broadway). Director Lucy Bailey’s recent work includes Witness for the Prosecution (London County Hall) and Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare’s Globe).

The cast includes Jacob Ifan (Cuffs, A Discovery of Witches) as William Carey, Kemi-Bo Jacobs (The Ocean at the End of the Lane NT/West End, The Winter’s Tale RSC) as Queen Katherine, Alex Kingston (Doctor Who, The Tempest RSC) as Lady Elizabeth, Peter Losasso (Mrs Warren’s Profession, Twelfth Night) as Francis Weston, Freya Mavor (Industry, Skins) as Anne Boleyn, Lily Nichol (Imperium RSC, Maternal) as Jane Parker, Lucy Phelps (Much Ado About Nothing Shakespeare’s Globe, Measure for Measure RSC) as Mary Boleyn and Andrew Woodall (South Downs/The Browning Version, Fracked! CFT) as the Duke of Norfolk; with Chris Green (musician and musical director) and Sarah Harrison (musician).

The designer will be Joanna Parker, lighting designer Chris Davey, composer Orlando Gough, sound designer Beth Duke, video designer Dick Straker, movement director Ayse Tashkiran, wigs, hair & make-up designer Susanna Peretz and casting director Ginny Schiller CDG.


By Laura Lomas
An adaptation of Miss Julie by August Strindberg
Directed by Holly Race Roughan
A co-production with Headlong in association with Frantic Assembly

3 May – 1 June, Minerva Theatre

A wild party. A friendship. A cherished pet. And a night that changes everything.

It’s Julie’s 18th birthday, and she’s throwing a party in her father’s extravagant townhouse. Her boyfriend has just dumped her and her long-suffering best friend Christine is trying to pick up the pieces. As the revellers pile into the booze, down in the kitchen Christine and her boyfriend Jon – son of Julie’s cleaner – clear up and dare to dream of the future.

But as the volume goes up and the shots go down, Julie concocts a twisted cocktail of privilege, desire and destruction.

Laura Lomas’s The House Party spins Strindberg’s Miss Julie into intense, fizzing life for today’s generation.

Audiences will have the option of choosing immersive tickets to be amongst the house party action.

Lomas’s recent work includes Metamorphoses (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Blue Woman (Royal Opera House) and Chaos (National Theatre Connections).

This co-production with Headlong in association with Frantic Assembly is directed by Holly Race Roughan, whose previous work at Chichester includes Hedda Tesman (2019) and A View from the Bridge (2023). Headlong celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2024; their collaborations with Chichester have also included Six Characters in Search of an Author, Enron and The House They Grew Up In.

The cast includes Rachelle Diedericks (Our Generation, A View from the Bridge) as Christine and Nadia Parkes (Kidnapped, The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself) as Julie.

The House Party has set design by Loren Elstein, costume design by Maybelle Laye, lighting and video design by Joshua Pharo, music and sound design by Giles Thomas, movement direction by Scott Graham, intimacy direction by Haruka Kuroda and casting by Matilda James CDG.

For ages 14+; please note this production contains scenes some people may find upsetting.


By Helen Edmundson
Based on the novel by Jamila Gavin
Directed by Anna Ledwich

24 May – 15 June, Festival Theatre
21 – 29 June, The Lowry, Salford

Angels and abandoned children, glorious music and murder most foul whirl through this enthralling, moving and richly colourful tale of 18th century England.

At Gloucester Cathedral, Alexander Ashbrook, heir to an aristocratic estate, has his heart set on becoming a composer; but his stern father refuses to listen and despite his love for the beautiful Melissa, flight seems his only option. Far darker conflicts are at play for Meshak, son of the brutal Otis Gardiner who preys on young unmarried mothers – promising to deliver their babies to Coram’s new Foundling Hospital but instead meting out a terrible fate.

Their stories entwine eight years later in London, where two Coram orphans, Toby and Aaron, find themselves on parallel adventures, and the great Handel is at work on a new score, Messiah, embodying the hope of love and salvation over evil.

Helen Edmundson‘s adaptation of Jamila Gavin‘s Whitbread Award-winning novel premiered at the National Theatre in 2005 before transferring to Broadway. Nominated for several Olivier and Tony Awards, it won the Time Out Live Award for Best Play. Anna Ledwich, formerly writer in residence at CFT (Pinocchio) and Artistic Director of Theatre on the Fly (2012), whose recent directorial work includes Anthropology (Hampstead), directs.

The designer is Simon Higlett, lighting designer Emma Chapman, composer and sound designer Max Pappenheim, movement director Chi-San Howard and casting director Annelie Powell CDG.

For ages 12+.

Coram Boy will run at The Lowry, Salford from 21 – 29 June, immediately following its Chichester run.


By Harold Pinter
Directed by Justin Audibert
8 June – 13 July, Minerva Theatre

We’re in London, at the tail end of the 1950s, in a derelict room stuffed with junk, detritus and a bucket for the leaky ceiling. Enter two men: the room’s occupant, the gentle and damaged Aston, and Davies, a mercurial drifter whom Aston has brought in from the streets. Soon they’re joined by the building’s owner, Aston’s brother: the explosively unpredictable Mick.

What follows is a darkly comic, unsettling tango as the three men vie for territory, opportunity and control that remains tantalisingly out of reach.

Premiered in 1960, The Caretaker was Harold Pinter’s first major success and is now regarded as a landmark of 20th century drama, laced with astringent wit and unsentimental compassion.

Justin Audibert, Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre, directs.

The cast is Adam Gillen (Amadeus National Theatre, ITV’s Benidorm) as Aston; Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars, Six Characters in Search of an Author CFT, Faith Healer Almeida and Broadway) as Davies; and Jack Riddiford (Romeo and Juliet Almeida Theatre, Jerusalem West End) as Mick.

The Caretaker is designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis, with lighting design by Simon Spencer, music composed by Jonathan Girling, sound design by Ed Clarke, movement direction by Lucy Cullingford and casting by Jessica Ronane CDG.


Book, Music and Lyrics by Lionel Bart
Freely adapted from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist?
New revision by Cameron Mackintosh
Directed and Choreographed by Matthew Bourne

8 July – 7 September, Festival Theatre

This spectacular new production of Lionel Bart’s iconic musical has been fully reconceived especially for CFT by director and choreographer Matthew Bourne and Cameron Mackintosh and promises to be one of the most unforgettable shows ever at the Festival Theatre.

The orphaned Oliver escapes the harsh Victorian workhouse and takes refuge in London’s murky underworld with the wily gang leader Fagin and his team of resourceful pickpockets led by the Artful Dodger. He finds a friend in the kind-hearted Nancy and when he’s wrongly arrested for stealing, Oliver meets an unexpected saviour; but is happiness truly within his grasp?

With a sensational score, including Food Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, You’ve Got to Pick- a-Pocket or Two, I’d Do Anything, Oom Pah Pah, As Long As He Needs Me and many more, the Olivier, Tony and Oscar-winning masterpiece vividly brings to life Dickens’ ever-popular story of the boy who asked for more.

Matthew Bourne is internationally renowned for reinventing classics including Swan Lake and Edward Scissorhands for his company New Adventures, as well as his Olivier Award-winning choreography for My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins (which he co-directed and also earned him a Tony Award nomination for Best Choreography) and his recent acclaimed direction and musical staging of Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends. The stellar creative team includes designer Lez Brotherston (Fiddler on the Roof, Me and My Girl, Flowers for Mrs Harris).

The cast includes Simon Lipkin (Guys and Dolls, Avenue Q) as Fagin, Shanay Holmes (Miss Saigon, The Bodyguard) as Nancy, Aaron Sidwell (Henry VI, Wicked) as Bill Sikes, Billy Jenkins (Les Misérables, BBC’s Dodger) as the Artful Dodger and Philip Franks (The Rocky Horror Show, Witness for the Prosecution) as Mr Brownlow.

Oliver! is directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne; co-director Jean-Pierre van der Spuy; designer Lez Brotherston; musical supervisor and conductor Graham Hurman; lighting designers Paule Constable and Ben Jacobs; sound designer Adam Fisher; video designer George Reeve; original orchestrations William David Brohn; orchestral adaptation Stephen

Metcalfe; casting directors Felicity French CDG and Paul Wooller CDG; children’s casting director Verity Naughton CDG.

Oliver! is produced in association with Cameron Mackintosh.

There will be a Dementia Friendly performance on 31 July; a Relaxed Performance on 22 August; and a Summer Gala on 6 September.


By Paul Unwin
Directed by Jonathan Kent
19 July – 17 August, Minerva Theatre

To promise nearly fifty million people truly universal health care – ‘cradle to the grave’ – is crackers.

1945. In a country exhausted and crippled by debt after six years of war, time is up for Winston Churchill’s Tories. With a rallying cry for change, Labour wins an astonishing, landslide election victory.

Clement Attlee may be an unlikely prime minister and his cabinet of competing heavyweights – from the loyal Ernest Bevin to scheming Herbert Morrison – argue furiously about how to realise their manifesto: to make a welfare state, build millions of homes, reorganise dilapidated schools, and most dramatically, create a National Health Service that is free at the point of need.

Driven by the passionate and courageous radical Ellen Wilkinson, and the visionary firebrand Nye Bevan, a very British revolution is in the air. But in the face of bitter opposition, is this an audacious pledge of hope or a promise too far?

Paul Unwin’s new drama is a fascinating, deeply pertinent portrayal of the people who moulded modern Britain and what it cost them. Paul Unwin is co-creator of TV’s longest-running medical drama Casualty. Jonathan Kent, whose previous Chichester productions include Gypsy, Sweeney Todd and Young Chekhov Trilogy, directs.

The Promise will have lighting design by Peter Mumford and casting by Annelie Powell CDG.

John le Carré’s


Adapted for the stage by David Eldridge
Directed by Jeremy Herrin
23 August – 21 September, Minerva Theatre

All cats are alike in the dark.

At the height of the Cold War, disillusioned British spy Alec Leamas is persuaded by the head of The Circus and veteran agent George Smiley to stay ‘in the cold’ for one last risky operation against the powerful leader of the East German Secret Service.

But Leamas has committed a cardinal error: he’s fallen in love. After a lifetime of deception and betrayal, can there be room for humanity in the ruthlessly manipulative world of international espionage?

The first ever John le Carré novel to be adapted for the stage, this award-winning 1963 thriller has been hailed as a modern masterpiece.

David Eldridge’s plays include Beginning and Middle for the National Theatre, and his adaptation of Festen (Almeida, West End and Broadway). Director Jeremy Herrin, whose Chichester work includes This House, Another Country and South Downs, returns following recent London productions of A Mirror and Ulster American.

The casting director will be Jessica Ronane CDG.


By Charlotte Jones
Directed by Justin Audibert
20 September – 18 October, Festival Theatre

These kids – they’re taking over the world – they’re the new aristocracy, man and the old guard don’t like it.

In the quiet market town of Chichester, the most famous members of the most infamous rock group in the world are on trial.

1967. At Keith Richards’s country house Redlands in deepest West Sussex, the Rolling Stones are enjoying a bohemian night in with the likes of Marianne Faithfull and George Harrison, until the constabulary swoop down and charge Keith and Mick Jagger with drug offences.

Only one man can defend the two icons of the 60s revolution: Michael Havers, leading QC and future attorney general. But the furore also brings into the spotlight his own relationship with his son, aspiring teenage actor Nigel Havers, who’s been drawn into Marianne’s orbit…

This riotous, psychedelic and hugely entertaining account of possibly the most bizarre English court case ever held evokes a turning point in cultural history and the clash between the generations.

Charlotte Jones’s plays include The Meeting (CFT 2018), and the multi award-winning Humble Boy (National Theatre, West End and Broadway). Justin Audibert, CFT’s Artistic Director, makes his Festival Theatre debut.

A fictional account, inspired by the famous ‘Redlands’ trial of the Rolling Stones.

The set designer will be Joanna Scotcher, the composer and orchestrator will be Benjamin Kwasi Burrell, and the casting director Ginny Schiller CDG.


Adapted by Carl Grose
From the play by John Willard
Directed by Paul Hunter
A co-production with Told by an Idiot
27 September – 26 October, Minerva Theatre

As midnight strikes, a storm rages over the wilds of Bodmin Moor. The surviving descendants of the long-deceased Cyrus West have gathered in his remote mansion to discover which of them is the chosen heir to his fortune. As the wind rattles the house, so does news that the most dangerous inmate from the nearby asylum is on the run. Menace lurks around every corner and nothing is what it seems…

The Cat and the Canary has woven its macabre fascination for over 100 years. Carl Grose adapts John Willard’s fabulous period piece into a deliciously terrifying and terrifyingly funny tale that will have you on the edge – or possibly right out – of your seat.

A co-production with Told by an Idiot, renowned for their unique visual flair and playfully inventive storytelling including Charlie and Stan (Minerva 2020), directed by their Artistic Director, Paul Hunter.

The cast includes Will Merrick (Skins, Dead Pixels).

Disclaimer: those of a nervous disposition, allergic to terror and frights and bumps in the night, should attend with caution…

The Cat and the Canary will be designed by Angela Davies; the casting director will be Matilda James CDG.


Written by Vicki Berwick
From an original idea by Michael Morpurgo
Directed by Dale Rooks
7 – 29 December, Minerva Theatre

Enchanting, funny and heart-warming, this festive story about the importance of finding friendship and somewhere to call home, was created especially for Chichester Festival Theatre by Michael Morpurgo.

Tree is rescued from the forest on Christmas Eve by Mavis, the motorbiking park ranger, who lives with her cheeky cat Winston and 9-year-old Yulia, who doesn’t want to talk and is a long way from home.

Tree has never had Christmas before and isn’t sure about all the decorations he has to wear. But he meets Father Christmas and the Snow Woman, and with Yulia to care for him, he starts to dance. The seasons come and go, Tree grows taller, and soon Christmas comes around once again. And alongside the gifts in their stockings is the best present of all.

Inspired by Michael Morpurgo’s book of poems My Heart Was a Tree, and written for the stage by Vicki Berwick, it’s a perfect first festive theatre trip for 3 to 7 year olds.

Dale Rooks, whose Chichester productions include The Butterfly Lion, Running Wild and The Wind in the Willows, directs.

Hey! Christmas Tree will have music and lyrics by Eammon O’Dwyer. For ages 3 – 7. Relaxed Performance on 29 December.

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre


Written by Philip Wilson
Music by Jason Carr
Lyrics by Philip Wilson and Jason Carr
Directed by Jon Pashley
17 – 31 December, Festival Theatre

You are invited to the prince’s ball this Christmas!

Transport yourself into a spellbinding new retelling of this classic folk tale, full of wonder and delight. Meet a wicked stepfamily, a handsome prince in search of a wife and a missing slipper… But wait: there are also three magical dresses, a wish-giving tree, and help for Cinderella from a very unexpected source.

Packed with thrilling theatricality and delightful comedy, Cinderella is written by Philip Wilson (Grimm Tales), with original live music and songs by Jason Carr, and directed by Jon Pashley (CFYT’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre follows five-star versions of Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio

and The Jungle Book with another festive feast of magical storytelling.

Cinderella will have set designs by Simon Higlett and costume designs by Abigail Caywood. For ages 7+. Relaxed Performance 30 December.

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