Find out who's coming to Chichester Festival Theatre this winter

The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones

Chichester Festival Theatre unveils its full winter 2019-20 season on September 3.

But in the meantime, they are offering Observer readers an exclusive preview of the week-long shows coming up in the months ahead.

The CFT is promising fascinating dramas, captivating musicals and family shows, plus a kaleidoscope of dance, music and comedy.

The musical sensation Six and the hit comedy Calendar Girls: The Musical are heading this way, while star-studded drama arrives with Prism, My Cousin Rachel and The Lovely Bones.

Told by an Idiot visit Chichester for the first time with their new piece about Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel, while the Olivier Award-winning production A Monster Calls launches a national tour at the Festival Theatre. Robert Lindsay and Tara Fitzgerald will be among the winter stars.

Among the touring productions will be:

Robert Lindsay and Tara Fitzgerald in Prism (Festival Theatre, November 5-9). Written and directed by Terry Johnson and following a sell-out run at London’s Hampstead Theatre, Prism is the true story of the man who spent his life making Hollywood’s greatest divas look beautiful.

Robert Lindsay plays the double Oscar-winning cinematic master Jack Cardiff, who has retired to a Buckinghamshire village. He is surrounded by memorabilia of his days on famous film sets – and his secret liaisons with famous women. Writing an autobiography should be an easy matter were it not that Jack would now rather live in the past than remember it. Tara Fitzgerald also stars.

Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s Calendar Girls: The Musical (Festival Theatre, November 13-23). Calendar Girls: The Musical is the award-winning production based on the true story of the calendar girls – a group of ordinary ladies who achieved something extraordinary.

The musical comedy, which comes straight from London’s West End, comes to Chichester starring Sarah Jane Buckley (Blood Brothers, Hollyoaks), Sue Devaney (Coronation Street, Dinnerladies), Julia Hills (2point4 Children, EastEnders), Judy Holt (Coronation Street, Scott & Bailey), Ruth Madoc (Hi-de-Hi!, Little Britain), Lisa Maxwell (The Bill, Loose Women) and Rebecca Storm (Blood Brothers, Annie).

The Lovely Bones (Festival Theatre, November 26-30). Alice Sebold’s best-selling novel is a coming-of-age tale that captured readers throughout the world. The stage adaptation by Bryony Lavery, directed by Melly Still, offers a play about life after loss.

Susie Salmon is just like any other young girl. She wants to be beautiful, adores her charm bracelet and has a crush on a boy from school. There’s one big difference though – Susie is dead. Suitable for ages 14+; contains adult themes.

Christmas Concerts (Festival Theatre, December 2-7). The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth and Chichester Cathedral Choir promise the best possible musical start to Christmas. Traditional carols and perennial favourites combine with enjoyable new discoveries and Christmas cracker jokes for a night of winter cheer.

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre – The Wizard Of Oz (Festival Theatre, December 14- 29). When Dorothy runs away from her home in Kansas with her faithful dog Toto, she’s caught up in a terrifying cyclone and finds herself in the strange and magical land of Oz. There she encounters a host of curious and enchanting characters. Accompanied by a Scarecrow, a Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion, can Dorothy escape the Wicked Witch of the West, reach the Emerald City and find the mysterious Wizard of Oz?

This faithful adaptation of L Frank Baum’s novel features all the songs from the 1939 classic film, including Over the Rainbow, If I Only Had a Brain and We’re Off To See The Wizard. Lucy Betts, who directed 2018’s Sleeping Beauty, takes the reins again for another festive production from CFYT.

Moscow City Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty (Festival Theatre, January 2-5). Moscow City Ballet return to Chichester with their production of The Sleeping Beauty, presented in classic Russian style with full orchestra. The enchanting story of Princess Aurora, wicked Carabosse, the Lilac Fairy and an array of fairytale characters is set to Tchaikovsky’s score.

Six (Festival Theatre, January 14-19). Divorced. Beheaded. Live! Nominated for five Olivier Awards including Best New Musical, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss’s sell-out international smash hit Six is a phenomenon. From Tudor queens to pop princesses, the six wives of Henry VIII finally take to the mic to tell their tales, remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an 80-minute celebration of 21st century girl power.

The Strange Tale Of Charlie Chaplin And Stan Laurel (Minerva Theatre, January 21-25). In 1910, the unknown Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel set sail for New York as part of Fred Karno’s famous music hall troupe, sharing a cabin and then spending two years touring North America together. Stan returned home to find success with Oliver Hardy; Charlie became one of the most famous figures in the world. In Chaplin’s autobiography, Stan Laurel is never mentioned. Stan talked about Charlie all his life.

Helen George in My Cousin Rachel (Festival Theatre, January 28-February 1). Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier and adapted by Joseph O’Connor, this menacing psychological thriller has enthralled readers since it was first published in 1951. When wealthy landowner Ambrose Ashley marries a distant relation Rachel and dies in Italy shortly afterwards, his young ward Philip is convinced Rachel is responsible for his death. But when he meets Rachel in Cornwall and falls for her charms, he is torn between believing she is a gold-digging murderess or that she is a maligned victim of rumour and suspicion. Helen George, known for eight series of TV’s Call the Midwife, plays Rachel.

A Monster Calls (Festival Theatre, February 6-15). Patrick Ness’s best-selling and critically acclaimed novel A Monster Calls (inspired by an idea by Siobhan Dowd) is brought to life in this Olivier Award-winning production by director Sally Cookson.Thirteen-year-old Conor’s mum is sick, his grandmother won’t stop interfering and the kids at school won’t look him in the eye. Then, one night, he is woken by something at his window. A monster has come walking, to tell Conor tales from when it walked before. And when it’s finished, Conor must tell his own story and face his deepest fears.

Priority booking for Friends of Chichester Festival Theatre opens:

Saturday, September 7 (online and by booking form only)

Tuesday, September 10 (phone and in person)

Groups and schools booking opens:

Thursday, September 12 Public booking opens:

Saturday, September 14 (online only)

Tuesday, September 17 (phone and in person)

Box office 01243 781312; online cft.org.uk