Your full guide to all the Chichester Festival Theatre productions this summer

Festival 2021 productions – July To October

CFT summer
CFT summer

SOUTH PACIFIC. Music by Richard Rodgers. Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener. Directed by Daniel Evans. 5 July – 4 September 2021, live in the Festival Theatre. Streamed as live on 4, 9, 14, 18, 21, 26, 31 August & 3 September

Led by Gina Beck (Matilda, Show Boat, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera) as Nellie, Julian Ovenden (Bridgerton, Downton Abbey, Merrily We Roll Along, Grand Hotel, BBC Proms) as Emile, Joanna Ampil (Avenue Q, Les Misérables, Miss Saigon) as Bloody Mary, Keir Charles (Quiz, Back To Life) and Rob Houchen (Les Misérables, The Light in the Piazza) as Cable, the cast also includes Iroy Abesamis, Carl Au, Rosanna Bates, David Birrell, Leslie Garcia Bowman, Taylor Bradshaw, Bobbie Chambers, Danny Collins, Shailan Gohil, Adrian Grove, Zack Guest, Cameron Bernard Jones, Amanda Lindgren, Matthew Maddison, Sera Maehara (as Liat), Melissa Nettleford, Rachel Jayne Picar, Kate Playdon, Pierce Rogan, Clancy Ryan and James Wilkinson-Jones.

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This much-loved, Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical opened in 1949 to huge success, becoming one of Broadway’s longest running hit shows. It boasts one of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s most memorable scores, featuring songs such as Some Enchanted Evening, I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair and Bali Ha’i.

1943. On an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, US troops are kicking their heels amid the cacao groves while restlessly waiting for the war to reach them.

Nellie Forbush, a navy nurse from Arkansas, finds herself falling for the French plantation owner, Emile de Becque – a man with a mysterious past. The scheming sailor Luther Billis runs a makeshift laundry to earn a quick buck, but he’s no match for the Polynesian Bloody Mary who’s intent on exploiting these foreigners.

When young Princeton graduate Lieutenant Joe Cable is flown in on a dangerous reconnaissance mission, love and fear become entwined as the island’s battle for hearts and minds begins.

The production is directed by Artistic Director Daniel Evans whose previous Chichester productions include This Is My Family, Quiz and Fiddler on the Roof.

The set and costume designer is Peter McKintosh, and the choreographer and movement director, Ann Yee. Musical supervision is by Nigel Lilley, with musical direction by Cat Beveridge, orchestrations by David Cullen, lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Paul Groothuis, video design by Gillian Tan, additional arrangements by Theo Jamieson, and casting by Charlotte Sutton.

South Pacific will be streamed as live on selected dates in August and September, visit website for details. One performance of South Pacific each week will be socially distanced.

There will be a Dementia Friendly performance on 1 September at 2.30pm, welcoming individuals living with dementia, as well as their friends, families and carers.


THE FLOCK, a new play by Zoe Cooper. Directed by Guy Jones. 6 – 28 August, Minerva Theatre.

The parishioners of All Hallows Church are putting on a production of Noah’s Ark, one of a cycle of mystery plays performed by all the local parishes. The Bishop is hopeful the project will help paper over the cracks revealed by an unfortunate incident involving an evangelical, a glass of wine and an angry liberal.

Rory, All Hallows’ vicar, wants to keep a low profile, and his partner Simon is happy to provide musical accompaniment but would rather he wasn’t given any lines, thank you very much.

The congregation, however, have other plans. For Patricia, the show is an opportunity to show off the church’s artistic talents, while the curate, Hannah, hopes it will give her a chance to get to know the parishioners better. Meanwhile, Fin becomes ever more infuriated at Rory’s hands-off approach and teenager Erin just hopes that this is a family where she might find a home.

Above all, Rory wants to keep the ship – and his relationship – afloat. Can this battered vessel still offer its clergy and congregation sanctuary in the storm?

Compassionate and funny, The Flock depicts the bumpy road to inclusion for this community, asking how we can live and worship alongside one another when our differences are so marked. How do we remain together when we’re so far apart?

Zoe Cooper’s plays include the award-winning Jess and Joe Forever, and Out of Water (Orange Tree/RSC) which – directed by Guy Jones – was a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist and shortlisted for the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright.

The Flock will be designed by Natasha Jenkins, with sound design by Alexandra Faye Braithwaite and casting by Charlotte Sutton.

One performance each week will be socially distanced.


THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE by Martin McDonagh. Directed by Rachel O’Riordan. A co-production with Lyric Hammersmith Theatre. 3 September – 2 October, Minerva Theatre

In the mountains of Connemara, County Galway, Maureen Folan – a plain, lonely woman, tied to her manipulative and ageing mother, Mag – comes alive at her first and possibly last prospect of a loving relationship. But Mag has other ideas; and her interference sets in motion a train of events that leads inexorably towards the play’s breathtaking conclusion.

Rachel O’Riordan directs a major revival of this darkly comic, award-winning play by Martin McDonagh, whose work includes the films Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and In Bruges; and the plays The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Lieutenant of Inishmore and Hangmen.

Ingrid Craigie plays Mag. Her many credits include Sweet Bird of Youth (CFT), The Cripple of Inishmaan (West End/Broadway) and TV’s Roadkill. Kwaku Fortune (Line of Duty, Normal People) makes his Chichester debut as Ray.

Rachel O’Riordan is Artistic Director of the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith and formerly of Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre. Her directing credits include Tanika Gupta’s adaptation of A Doll’s House (Lyric) and the Olivier Award-winning Killology (Sherman/Royal Court).

Suitable for ages 14+

The production will be designed by Good Teeth Theatre, with music and sound designed by Anna Clock, and casting by Sam Stevenson.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane is a co-production with Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, where it will play immediately following its Chichester run, from 9 – 30 October.


THE LONG SONG: A new adaptation by Suhayla El-Bushra. Based on the novel by Andrea Levy. Directed by Charlotte Gwinner, 1 – 23 October, Festival Theatre

‘You do not know me yet but I am the heroine of this drama. I am told that here I must give a taste of what is to unfold. I am to convey that this tale is set in Jamaica during the last turbulent days of slavery and the early years of freedom.

‘I was born a slave upon a sugar plantation named Amity. I was there when the Baptist War raged in 1831, and when slavery was declared no more. It tells of my mama Kitty, of the negroes enslaved, of Caroline Mortimer the woman who owned me. I am to say that it is a true and thrilling journey through that unsettled time.

‘Cha, I say, what fuss-fuss. Come, let them just see it for themselves.’

Miss July is born into slavery in Jamaica and is brutally parted from both her mother, and her name. But what she retains is resilience, charisma and a subversive, spirited wit. This ebullient and life-affirming play finds humanity, resistance and hope in the darkest of times.

The Long Song is adapted from Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel by Suhayla El-Bushra, formerly writer in residence at the National Theatre Studio and whose work includes The Suicide (NT), Arabian Nights (Lyceum, Edinburgh), and Channel 4’s Hollyoaks and Ackley Bridge.

Director Charlotte Gwinner was Associate Director at the Bush Theatre, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and Sheffield Theatres 2014-16, where her productions included Waiting for Godot, the Sarah Kane season and The Distance.

The production will be designed by Frankie Bradshaw, with lighting by Mark Doubleday, musical direction, vocal arrangements and additional composition by Michael Henry, sound by Helen Skiera, video by Dick Straker, movement by Angela Gasparetto, fights by Kev McCurdy and casting by Charlotte Sutton with Chandra Ruegg.


HOME by David Storey. Directed by Josh Roche. 8 October – 6 November, Minerva Theatre

Harry and Jack. Marjorie and Kathleen. Alfred.

In a neglected garden, small talk oscillates between the weather, the neighbours, reminiscences of friends and family, and anecdotes of past exploits in love and war.

But this quintet of characters, with their foibles and failings, are not what they seem to be, and nor is their home. And overhead, the clouds are gathering.

David Storey’s award-winning 1970 play has become a modern classic – a heartrendingly funny, haunting and deeply humane study of hearts, minds and England: islands adrift.

Director Josh Roche won the JMK Award for his production of My Name Is Rachel Corrie at the Young Vic with Erin Doherty in the title role. He has directed productions for Audible UK, BBC Arts, and has worked extensively at the RSC and Shakespeare’s Globe. He is the co-founder of OpenHire.

The production designer will be Sophie Thomas, with casting by Charlotte Sutton.

Other members of the creative team will be appointed in accordance with OpenHire’s principles of publicly advertising freelance opportunities and a transparent recruitment process.


Chichester Festival Youth Theatre: PINOCCHIO. A new adaptation by Anna Ledwich. Music by Tom Brady. From the original novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. Directed by Dale Rooks. 18 December – 1 January, Festival Theatre

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. It returns for Christmas 2021 again directed by Dale Rooks, who brings her trademark visual flair and gift for storytelling to this darkly magical reinvention.

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…

The set is designed by Simon Higlett, with costumes by Ryan Dawson Laight, lighting by James Whiteside and sound by Gregory Clarke.

Recommended for ages 7+. There will be a Relaxed performance of Pinocchio on 23 December at 2pm, and a Polish-translated performance on 22 December at 2pm.

Pinocchio is sponsored by Henry Adams and by Mercer.


Other events

Carly Bawden, Ako Mitchell and Sharon Rose are among the West End stars who’ll be appearing at CFT’s Concerts in the Park from 3 – 6 June, part of CFT’s Open Air Weekend. CBBC BAFTA Award-winner Emily Burnett headlines Family Fun in the Park on 4 & 5 June.

Before Festival 2021, two highly acclaimed companies return for a mini Cabaret season at the Minerva Theatre in June. Following their sold-out runs in the 2019 Spiegeltent season, The Black Cat Cabaret presents Salon des Artistes (10-12 June) and there’s another chance to see Barely Methodical Troupe’s Bromance (17-19 June).

There’s also another chance for audiences at home to experience a specially made film of the production that defied lockdown. Sarah Kane’s Crave was live streamed to thousands in 50 countries around the globe as the cast of four performed in Chichester Festival Theatre’s empty auditorium. This film is a new edit of the live stream, with remastered sound and incorporating new footage, available to watch from 18 – 29 May.

A lively programme of talks and activities will complement Festival 2021. Highlights include an interview with Kate Mosse on her personal story of being a carer; discussions on Martin McDonagh’s international range, and the legacy of Andrea Levy; the NT Connections 2021 South East festival; and DigitAll, an annual celebration of performances created by people with additional needs, moves online.


Priority booking for Friends of Chichester Festival Theatre opens: Saturday, May 22 (online and booking forms only); Tuesday May 25 (phone and in person).

General booking opens: Saturday, May 29 (online only); Tuesday, June 1 (phone and in person).; 01243 781312

Tickets have been held at 2019 prices; 14,500 tickets at £10 in the Festival Theatre and 6,000 £5 PROLOGUE tickets for 16 to 30-year-olds