Chichester Festival theatre boss to join musical stars in outdoor concert

Daniel Evans will perform with Omid Djalili, Gabrielle Brooks and Giles Terera in summer show previewing postponed South Pacific

Chichester Festival theatre cancelled its scheduled summer productions for the first time in its history as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The theatre’s traditional big musical is now rescheduled for 2021 but three of the stars of that South Pacific revival will perform in an outdoor August bank holiday concert also featuring Omid Djalili, Gabrielle Brooks, Giles Terera – who played Aaron Burr in Hamilton – and Chichester’s artistic director himself, Daniel Evans.

“Thankfully I’ve got the next six weeks to tune up my vocal cords,” said Evans, who won two Olivier awards for best actor in a musical before running Sheffield Theatres and took over at Chichester, in West Sussex, in 2016. He will be directing South Pacific next year. “Even though we can’t open the Festival theatre’s doors yet, we felt it was really important to offer our audiences something uplifting to look forward to this summer,” he said. “We’re very lucky to have both a glorious park and a big car park on our doorstep – so it was a no-brainer to take advantage of both of them, with the sterling support of Chichester District council, and to work with our local independent cinema, Chichester Cinema at New Park, to put on a drive-in cinema.”

‘We felt it was really important to offer our audiences something uplifting’ … Daniel Evans.
‘We felt it was really important to offer our audiences something uplifting’ … Daniel Evans. Photograph: Tobias Key

A raised stage will be erected next to the Festival theatre in Oaklands Park for the theatre’s Movies and Music Weekend on 28-31 August, with plots marked out for audience groups of up to two people and up to six people. Djalili, who starred as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof in Chichester, will introduce songs from West Side Story, Wicked and The Sound of Music, as well as a medley from South Pacific performed by Gina Beck, Rob Houchen and Julian Ovenden, “to give audiences a taste of what’s in store for next year”.

Next year Evans hopes to reconvene the three of them with as many of the original company as possible for South Pacific, which features some of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s best-known songs, including Some Enchanted Evening and I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair.

The drive-in cinema, in Chichester’s Northgate car park, will screen musicals including Singin’ in the Rain, The Greatest Showman and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Other events over the weekend include Hugh Bonneville reading Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Mog the Forgetful Cat, accompanied by a puppetry performance. “We’re Hugh Bonneville’s local theatre so we’re thrilled he’s coming to entertain families by reading Judith Kerr’s immortal books on bank holiday Monday,” said Evans, who suggests that the theatre will be able to stage further productions later in the year.

Last Thursday, the government gave permission for outdoor theatre productions to take place with the necessary safety measures in place. A number of concerts featuring stage musical stars performing remotely have been streamed in recent weeks. On Wednesday, Terera will host a free online concert in honour of Harry Gabriel, who will be celebrating his 40th anniversary as the Shaftesbury theatre’s stage doorkeeper this year. Judi Dench, Anthony Hopkins, Amanda Holden and Chita Rivera are set to appear.

• The Music and Movies Weekend takes place in various venues, Chichester, 28-31 August.


Chris Wiegand

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
'It's vital that theatres take risks': live stream of Sarah Kane play reopens Chichester
The Crown’s Erin Doherty will star in Crave, staged for socially distanced audience and available online around the world

Chris Wiegand

24, Sep, 2020 @7:00 AM

Article image
Fiddler on the Roof review – Omid Djalili delivers the laughs as a terrific Tevye
Director Daniel Evans draws out the warmth, comedy and emotional honesty of a musical that is often underserved by sentimental productions

Lyn Gardner

19, Jul, 2017 @3:02 PM

Article image
South Pacific review – a roof-raising Rodgers and Hammerstein triumph
It’s a story bordered by violence and bigotry, but this vibrant production emphasises the anti-racist message of the 1949 Broadway hit

Mark Lawson

14, Jul, 2021 @4:09 PM

Article image
Chichester Festival theatre appoints Justin Audibert as new artistic director
Audibert, who runs the Unicorn children’s theatre in London, will replace Daniel Evans who is moving to the Royal Shakespeare Company

Chris Wiegand Stage editor

19, Jan, 2023 @7:00 AM

Article image
Hamilton review – revolutionary musical a thrilling salute to America's immigrants
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s rollercoaster of a show boasts outstanding performances and charts the life of the US founding father with political passion and nimble wit

Michael Billington

23, Dec, 2017 @10:30 AM

Article image
An Enemy of the People review – Hugh Bonneville's whistleblower is a man of our times
Bonneville precisely captures the recklessness and egotism of Dr Stockmann in a vigorous production of Ibsen’s frighteningly topical play

Michael Billington

04, May, 2016 @10:00 PM

Article image
Shadowlands review – Bonneville dazzles as CS Lewis in divine revival
Questions of faith and loss drive a masterly story of the Narnia author in Rachel Kavanaugh’s deeply poignant production

Mark Lawson

03, May, 2019 @11:58 AM

Article image
[Title of Show] review – peek behind the curtain for musical theatre geeks
Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell’s characters deconstruct their own lines in a witty four-hander staged cleverly for streaming

Chris Wiegand

12, Nov, 2020 @4:44 PM

Article image
The best theatre of 2022
In a superb year for the stage, our chief critic gives 10 shows an extra round of applause. Plus, Guardian theatre reviewers each pick their 2022 standout

Arifa Akbar

15, Dec, 2022 @3:00 PM

Article image
Me and My Girl review – understudy triumphs in sparkling musical
Jokes aplenty, catchy songs and a cleverly staged production – there’s much to enjoy as Matt Lucas’s stand-in, Ryan Pidgen, and Caroline Quentin shine

Natalie Haynes

10, Jul, 2018 @11:11 AM