Imelda Staunton’s Gypsy headlines Chichester Festival Theatre season

Olivier Award winner for Best Actress in a Musical, Imelda Staunton

Olivier Award winner Imelda Staunton will lead the cast of Gypsy at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Picture: Vivienne Vincent

Chichester Festival Theatre’s much-anticipated production of Gypsy, starring Imelda Staunton as Mama Rose, will open on 14 October (running to 8 November) in the newly refurbished main house as part of the 2014 season.

The production will reunite Staunton with director Jonathan Kent, following their award-winning collaboration on Sweeney Todd. Also in the cast will be Lara Pulver (Uncle Vanya, Parade) as Louise and Kevin Whately who makes his Chichester debut as Herbie. Choreography is by Stephen Mear whose Chichester credits include Kiss Me, Kate and The Pajama Game, both of which have transferred to the West End.

Before Gypsy, the first musical staged in the Festival Theatre following its reopening will be Guys and Dolls (11 August–21 September, press night is 21 August), directed by Gordon Greenberg and choreographed by Carlos Acosta, both making their Chichester debuts. The cast features Clare Foster (Crazy For You, Merrily We Roll Along) as Sarah Brown, Jamie Parker (recently seen at Chichester in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead) as Sky Masterson, Peter Polycarpou (The Pajama Game, Sweeney Todd, Love Story, all at Chichester) as Nathan Detroit and Sophie Thompson (The Chalk Garden, Clybourne Park, Company) as Miss Adelaide.

Chichester’s Minerva Theatre programme will begin in May, but following its £22 million redevelopment the newly refurbished Festival Theatre reopens in July (the season runs through to Christmas). The refurbished Grade II building will boast a transformed auditorium, increased seating capacity of 1,300, more spacious foyer areas with new cafes, bars and outdoor terraces, as well as improved and expanded artist facilities.

Chichester Festival Theatre’s artistic director Jonathan Church said: “We’re immensely proud of our new theatre and of the season that celebrates our year of transformation. Both our audiences and the artists that work at Chichester are integral to our success and I look forward to renewing and strengthening our relationships with them during the important year ahead.”

When asked if the plan was for either Gypsy or Guys and Dolls to transfer to the West End, Church said that was not the priority and commented: “Nothing has a meaning unless it’s right for Chichester, it’s all down to the quality of the work.”

The Chichester Festival Theatre productions of Singin’ in the Rain and Barnum are both touring this year, while the venue’s The Pajama Game opens at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 13 May.

Readers may also be interested in:

Polycarpou and Wilmot confirmed for The Pajama GameNews

Singin’ in the Rain – Manchester and Touring – Review

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