An Oscar-winner, a knight and a stand-up star in new CFT season

Marcia Gay Harden

Marcia Gay Harden

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SIR Ian McKellen, Omid Djalili, One Foot in the Grave star Richard Wilson and Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden are the big names in the Chichester Festival Theatre 2017 summer season announced today.

Unveiling their first season in charge, new CFT bosses – executive director Rachel Tackley and artistic director Daniel Evans – are promising ‘great plays with great actors.’

Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson

Sir Ian will star as King Lear in a Minerva production which may well be relayed to a big screen outside to accommodate anticipated demand; British stand-up comedian and actor Omid Djalili will take the lead in the classic musical The Fiddler on the Roof; and Richard Wilson will open the summer season as the Headmaster in Alan Bennett’s Forty Years On.

The season will also see a major Tennessee Williams revival, with Marcia Gay Harden starring in Sweet Bird of Youth.

Rachel and Daniel said they were delighted with the season which has come together: ‘I love the broad range of it,’ said Rachel.

‘Announcing a season is a bit like inviting someone into your house.

Omid Djalili

Omid Djalili

‘You want them to love all the individual rooms, but you want them to love the overall effect, and I think what we are offering is thrilling.

‘It has taken a long time to put the season together. We can’t wait for people to see it.’

The season also offers a brand-new play about Charles Ingram, the infamous ‘coughing Major’ in the Who Wants to be A Millionaire? scandal – one of three new plays in the programme.

The season will also include The Norman Conquests, a classic trio of interconnecting plays by Alan Ayckbourn. Seen from differing perspectives, the plays are performed by one ensemble of actors.

Sir Ian McKellen

Sir Ian McKellen

General public booking opens March 4 (online only) and March 7 (phone and in person).

Go to or call 01243 781312.

See tomorrow’s Guide with your News for more on the highlights.

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