Stars out for Chichester Festival Theatre’s event

Tim McMullan, Rufus Hound, Ade Edmondson, Andrew Osborne
Tim McMullan, Rufus Hound, Ade Edmondson, Andrew Osborne

Chichester’s Festival Theatre has set its sights on the future with its topping-out ceremony.

The venue celebrated its second ever topping out today (Friday, September 13) – the first event, held over 50 years ago in November 1961, marked the beginning of the theatre’s life.

Today’s eventy, while paying due attention to the theatre’s past achievements, had its sights set fully on the future.

In his opening speech, Andrew Osborne said: “It reached a point where the building didn’t match the artistic achievement of the theatre.”

The £22m building project is proceeding on schedule, and during his speech, Osborne confirmed: “We’re still planning to open the theatre next June. It will be worth coming to Chichester now, to see the new play [Neville’s Island], it will be worth coming to Chichester to see the new building, and with the completion of this project it will be worth coming to Chichester for the next 50 years.”

The ceremony involved the presentation of a ceremonial trowel, and the breaking of a bottle of champaign against the newly-extended back wall of the theatre, an honour awarded to Ade Edmundson, star of Theatre in the Park’s Neville’s Island.

Project director Dan Watkins said: “Topping out has a dual meaning: it can mean the placement of the highest brick, or the last tile... here it means when the highest point is completed.”