NEWS: John Simm, Dervla Kirwan Hugh Bonneville, James Nesbitt & Sheila Hancock all feature in Chichester Festival Theatre’s new season

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Chichester Festival Theatre’s Festival 2019 has been announced by artistic director Daniel Evans. New for 2019 is The Spiegeltent, a unique venue for an eclectic range of events. CFT’s new executive director, who joins in May, will be Kathy Bourne.

Highlights include:

Classic and contemporary dramas:

  • Hugh Bonneville in Shadowlands by William Nicholson, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh
  • Kate Hewitt directs Rachael Stirling in David Hare’s Plenty
  • Nancy Carroll plays Hester Collyer in Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea, directed by Paul Foster
  • Paul Miller directs John Simm and Dervla Kirwan in Shakespeare’s Macbeth
  • An immersive staging of Roy WilliamsSing Yer Heart Out For the Lads directed by Nicole Charles

New plays:

  • 8 Hotels by Nicholas Wright, directed by Richard Eyre
  • Hedda Tesman by Cordelia Lynn, after Henrik Ibsen, directed by Holly Race Roughan in a co-production with Headlong and The Lowry
  • Anna Ledwich, CFT’s new Writer-in-Residence, adapts Michael Morpurgo’s The Butterfly Lion, directed by Dale Rooks


  • Tim Firth’s new musical This is My Family, with James Nesbitt, Sheila Hancock and Clare Burt, directed by Daniel Evans
  • Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! with Josie Lawrence, Hyoie O’Grady and Amara Okereke, directed by Jeremy Sams

Daniel Evans said: “We’re premiering four plays: two by our new writer-in-residence, Anna Ledwich, and there is an array of revivals and musicals which will be brought to life by an outstanding company of actors.

“Our directors include Nicole Charles, Kate Hewitt and Holly Race Roughan, all bright stars at the start of their careers, alongside the welcome Chichester debuts of Paul Foster and Paul Miller. October will see the installation of The Spiegeltent, providing an immersive setting for Roy WilliamsSing Yer Heart Out for the Lads, as well as an exciting range of events for all tastes.”

Festival 2019 productions – April to October

This is My Family

20 April to 15 June 2019, Minerva Theatre (Press night is 29 April)
Imagine you’re a spirited 13-year-old and you’ve won – actually won – a magazine competition to describe your family. The prize is a dream holiday for the lot of you, anywhere in the world. Winner of the 2013 UK Theatre Award, This is My Family has book, lyrics and music by Tim Firth (Calendar Girls) and is his first original solo musical. The production is directed by artistic director Daniel Evans.

James Nesbitt makes his Chichester debut whilst Sheila Hancock makes a welcome return. Clare Burt also returns to Chichester following her acclaimed performance in Flowers for Mrs Harris (2018). They are joined by Kirsty MacLaren, Rachel Lumberg and Scott Folan.


26 April to 25 May 2019, Festival Theatre (Press night is 2 May)
Hugh Bonneville returns to Chichester to play celebrated writer C.S. Lewis in William Nicholson’s much-loved play. Rachel Kavanaugh also returns to directs the production.


7 – 29 June, Festival Theatre Press night: Thursday 13 June
Kate Hewitt directs David Hare’s play, following her acclaimed production of Cock (Festival 2018). Rachael Stirling plays Susan Traherne.

The Deep Blue Sea

21 June to 27 July 2019, Minerva Theatre (Press night is 28 June)
Paul Foster directs Nancy Carroll (as Hester Collyer) alongside Hadley Fraser (Freddie Page).


15 July to 7 September 2019, Festival Theatre (Press night is 22 July)
Jeremy Sams returns to Chichester to direct and choreography is by Matt Cole. Josie Lawrence, whose stage work ranges from Shakespeare at the RSC and Globe to The King and I in the West End, plays Aunt Eller. Hyoie O’Grady, who recently played Enroljas in Les Misérables in the West End, plays Curly. Also making her Chichester debut, as Laurey, is Amara Okereke, winner of the 2018 Stage Debut Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Cosette in Les Misérables.

8 Hotels

1 to 24 August, Minerva Theatre (Press night is 7 August)
America. Celebrated actor, singer and political campaigner Paul Robeson – forever associated with ‘Ol’ Man River’ – is touring the country as the eponymous hero in Shakespeare’s Othello. His Desdemona is the brilliant young actress Uta Hagen. Her husband, the Broadway star José Ferrer, plays Iago. As the tour goes on, the boundaries between the onstage passions and their offstage lives begin to blur.

Nicholas Wright’s new play, directed by Richard Eyre, is based on true events involving some of the 20th century’s most influential American artists.

Hedda Tesman

30 August to 28 September 2019, Minerva Theatre (Press night is 5 September)
Cordelia Lynn’s Hedda Tesman breathes new life into Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, asking what we inherit, what we endure and how we carry our history. Holly Race Roughan directs. This Headlong co-production will play at The Lowry, Salford for three weeks, immediately following the Chichester run.


21 September to 26 October 2019, Festival Theatre (Press night is 27 September)
Artistic director of the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, Paul Miller directs John Simm, making his Chichester debut in the title role. Dervla Kirwan plays Lady Macbeth.

Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads

5 October to 2 November 2019, The Spiegeltent (Press night is 10 October)

Premiered at the National Theatre in 2002, Roy Williams’ ferocious, funny and disturbing play takes aim at what it means to be black, white and English in 21st century Britain. Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads will be performed in The Spiegeltent, which will be transformed into a pub setting to create an immersive theatrical experience.

The Butterfly Lion

5 October to 9 November 2019, Minerva Theatre (Press night is 14 October)
Based on Michael Morpurgo’s best-selling novel, this new stage adaptation is written by CFT’s writer-in-residence Anna Ledwich and directed by Dale Rooks.

The Spiegeltent

In October 2019, a Spiegeltent will be installed next to the Festival Theatre on Oaklands Park – a unique venue with its own personality, style and atmosphere. As well as providing an immersive experience for Roy Williams’ Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads, it will play host to an eclectic mix of cabaret, music and special events: from a comedy club and drag night, to a quiz, a Prologue scratch night and the annual Fun Palaces celebration on 6 October. The full programme will be announced in May.

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MyTheatreMates publishes a selection of daily press releases sent to us by publicists of the relevant show or theatre. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies contained within these materials.

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Press Releases on Twitter
Press Releases
MyTheatreMates publishes a selection of daily press releases sent to us by publicists of the relevant show or theatre. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies contained within these materials.

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